* V* - V.-. i Sexual Assault Winter 1994 Written by Shirley Pettifer & Janet Torge Original manuscript: Marilyn Bicher & Shirley Pettifer Project liaison: Donna Cherniak Photo coordination: Judith Lermer Crawley Front Cover and back cover: Judith Lermer Crawley Administration: Eileen Young & Corina Crawley Published by the Montreal Health Press/ les Presses de la sante de Montreal, Inc. (1973), an independent non-profit corporation. Members of the Montreal Health Press: Donna Cherniak, Marilyn Bicher, Judith Lermer Crawley, Miryam Gerson. Honorary members: Shirley L. Pettifer & Janet Torge © Copyright 1994 by Montreal Health Press, Inc. Reproduction of Sexual Assault in whole or in part, or any systematic mutilation of, or addition to, copies before distribution, constitutes a copyright violation unless the express consent of the publishers has been granted. The photographs in Sexual Assault were taken of models (by consent) or in public places. They are not meant as comments on any individual's lifestyle. Sexual Assault is sold to organizations at cost price and is meant for mass distribution. Books may be resold at cost only. The Montreal Health Press is interested in your comments about our publications. We would like to know how they are used in your community. Special thanks to those whose generous contributions helped us produce this book. Legal deposit, 3rd trimester 1 994 ISBN #1-895159-36-9 Printed in Canada To order our books Single orders: Please send $4.00 per copy (Incl. G.S.T.). Bulk orders: 1. Make cheque or purchase order payable to the Montreal Health Press. 2. Orders of 50-200 copies are packaged in bundles of 50 or 100 copies and sent by parcel post. 3. Orders of 250 copies or more are sent in Canada by truck and to the USA by UPS. Transportation costs are COD unless other arrangements are made. 4. Printing, postage and handling costs vary from year to year. Please write or call for up-to-date information. 5. Allow 3-5 weeks for delivery. 6. US and international orders are payable in US funds. Postal address: Montreal Health Press, Inc. PO Box 1000, Station Place du Pare Montreal, Quebec, Canada H2W 2N1 (514) 282-1171 • Fax (514) 282-0262 Other publications: birth control handbook STD Handbook a book about menopause le controle des naissances les maladies transmises sexuellement I'agression sexuel la menopause Poster Kit #1: Female and Male Anatomy Poster Kit #2: Birth Control Methods This book was distributed by: Page 3 introduction Sexual assault has been a hushed and secret experience for much of human history. Countless women have been its victims and countless more are restricted by the fear of it happening to them. Part I of Sexual Assault looks at rape as a private and personal experience. The practical information in this section should help women and children recognize and prevent situations where they might be victimized. It discusses the needs of the assault victim and her friends and family should rape occur. Though these concerns may be short term, they are intense and can have long term consequences. In Part II we look at the big picture: Why does rape happen? What beliefs do we hold about rape, its victims and assailants? We look at the origins of the popular beliefs held about rape, at the socialization process of boys and girls today, and at the functions rape serves in our society. These theoretical issues permit us to step back from the crisis situations and get a perspective on the social structures which allow rape to persist. They provide a basis for group discussion in classrooms, in the training of medical and legal personnel, etc. They are the source of potential actions for social change. The Montreal Health Press first addressed the issues of sexual assault in 1979. Since that time we have witnessed attitude and legal changes which our revisions take into account. For instance, men and children are now recognized as potential victims of sexual assault. However, we focus mainly on women because violence is still primarily directed toward them. As attitudes change, so does language. The word "rape" is frequently replaced by the term "sexual assault". We continue to use both words inter- changeably in our text because "rape" is still used in the criminal codes of many states in the U.S. and is also common in everyday language. For many people, the word "rape" has an emotional impact, expressing the ugliness of the event; sexual assault is a more recent term, now being used in legal codes, to acknowledge that the act is primarily one of violence. Concerns expressed by women and by groups familiar with the experience of assault victims are reflected in some of the new legislation in Canada and some states in the U.S. The ability to have our voices heard and translated into laws is a small, but important step toward social change. It is encouraging to see that women and children are being taught to deal assertively with situations of potential danger. There is less acceptance that the victim role is the only choice for women. At the same time, however, there is a growth of the pornography industry which often promotes rape as erotic "entertainment". We still see court rulings where judges condemn women for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, implying that the victim is responsible for the offence. The overall picture of sexual violence is becoming clearer and a matter of public concern. But there is still a long way to go before sexual coercion is a rare occurrence and healthy, happy sexual encounters are the norm. As with our books on birth control, sexually transmitted diseases and menopause, Sexual Assault aims to inform people on issues of health and sexuality. People with access to compre- hensive, non-judgmental, easy-to-read information are better prepared to make decisions to exercise control, to effectively deal with problems that affect their lives. Sexual Assault is another Montreal Health Press effort to share this goal with you. table of contents introduction 3 types of sexual assault 4 part I: dealing with sexual assault 5 prevention 5 self-defence for women 9 the assault 10 after an assault 11 new assault laws in Canada 20 psychological impact of sexual assault 22 part II: sexual assault in society 25 popular beliefs about rape victims 26 popular beliefs about rapists 32 origins of popular beliefs 35 socialization 38 functions of sexual assault 41 conclusion: social change — 47 Page 4 types of sexual assault Legal definitions of rape and sexual assault often exclude the experience of most women. We look at a much broader variety of sexual assaults and at some of the locations where they occur. Our information is compiled from the following sexual assault scenarios. Date rape: In this type of sexual assault, both parties have initially chosen to be together. There may even be sexual overtones and expectations. But at some point during the "date", there is coercion by the man in response to the woman's resistance or refusal to engage in sexual activity. Recent studies and our own investigations concur that date rape is the most common, and least reported, type of assault. Victims are often reluctant to seek help and tend to view the experience as a private and personal matter — one of the risks involved in dating. Men might even admit to forcing themselves on a woman, and often feel justified if she consented on other occasions or seemed sexually responsive earlier in the encounter. Marriage: Marriage does not preclude the possibility that a woman can be sexually assaulted by her husband. In Canada and in some states in the U.S., the legal code was recently revised to include sexual assault within marriage as a crime. Most countries still stipulate the husband's conjugal rights and do not recognize rape within marriage. Legally, the wife does not have the right to say "no"; she gives her sexual consent once and for all in the marriage ceremony. Whether or not it is recognized as a crime, assault within marriage is a problem which is beginning to surface. The extent of the problem is still unknown, since women are reluctant (and often discouraged by the authorities) to press charges against their husbands. Sexual harassment: Sexual harassment is unwanted and repeated sexual advances usually by a person who has power or authority over another. This widespread problem is experienced by close to 50% of women in school or work situations. Harassment can take many forms — from touching, fondling and lewd comments to coercive sexual intercourse. What is common in every case is a fear that confrontation or denial of the request can mean loss of employment, failing grades or poor medical care. Because victims of sexual harassment often feel that they precipitated the advances, confrontation is difficult. Growing public awareness has prompted many companies and institutions to create policies to deal with sexual harassment. Publicizing these policies not only makes people more aware of their rights and obligations, but also may lower the incidence of sexual assault. Assault by a stranger: This is rape by a person or persons unknown to the victim. The victim may be stalked on the street, cornered in her own home, grabbed while waiting for the bus, etc. Although this is the most feared type of assault, it is the least common. Women are more likely to report assault by a stranger but this type of assault accounts for less than 10% of all rapes. The preoccupation with assault by a stranger serves to poorly prepare women and children to deal with the vast majority of sexual assaults they do encounter — on dates, at parties, by members of one's own family — by people known and often trusted by the victim. Child sexual abuse: This refers to situations where children are sexually coerced by adults for sexual gratification and profit. Kidnapping, sexual assault and occasional killing of children have become common fears among parents in Canada and the United States. Children are presented as objects of sexual desire in some pornography. The coercion of children into the world of prostitution is only slightly less alarming than the fact that there is a market demand for them. These situations have made parents aware that children need to be informed about child sexual abuse and about their right to refuse sexual demands, even from adults they love and trust. One of the most prevalent forms of child sexual abuse is incest. For the purposes of our book, we define incest as coercive sexual relations between children (most often girls) and older family members, usually in positions of authority. Often these occur- rences are repeated on a regular basis and are hidden from other family members by the use of threats and fear of exposure. Though abhorrent to most in our society, the incidence of incest is alarming (see page 42). Prosecution is rare, because of the problems it creates within the family, and because the victims are often under the age of 16 and have little credibility in court. (Note: we do not consider the innocent sexual experimentation that often occurs between brothers and sisters, close in age, a problem since it is not coercive.) Gang rape: A gang rape is when two or more people sexually assault another person or persons. This type of sexual assault is almost always planned. Though many think of it as a rare occurrence, research estimates gang rape to be from 30-50% of all actual assaults. Many all-male organizations use gang or group rape to initiate new members and to subjugate women. Gang rape is often thought to be the exclusive behaviour of motorcycle or ghetto gangs, but it also occurs in fraternities and stag parties among higher economic levels. Prison rape: This refers to sexual assault between members of the same sex within the confines of a jail. It is a common feature of prison life. Without many of the traditional displays of power found on the "outside," some inmates use sexual assault as a means of dominance and control over other inmates. Rape is also used as a punishment for those who break the unwritten laws of the prison community. War: Sexual assault has always been a part of war. Gruesome acts of violence have been imposed on women as warfare strategy, to assert power over an enemy people and to underline the ability of the conquering soldiers to humiliate the conquered nation. Women taken prisoners during wars and civil disputes are frequently subjected to sexual torture by their captors. Page 5 Statutory rape: We do not include in our book a discussion of the legal category "statutory rape" — sexual activity with a minor. The offence does not describe coercive sexual behaviour but, rather, focuses on the age of consent. In this sense, statutory rape dilutes the real meaning of sexual assault. part I dealing with sexual assault Although each experience of sexual assault is unique, women and children share a common vulner- ability to crimes of violence. In their work with children, CAP (Child Assault Prevention) outlines three factors which make women and children par- ticularly susceptible to sexual aggression. Lack of information: Inaccurate and incomplete information about sexual assault does not prepare us to deal with rape when we are actually confronted with it. For example, instead of learning to prevent sexual assault by someone we know (the most common form), we learn to be wary of rape by a stranger (the least common type of sexual assault). Media images and advice from so-called "experts" teach us (falsely) that we are incapable of effective resistance and that submission is the best response. Access to accurate information about when assaults occur, who the major perpetrators are, and what self-defence strategies women can use will reduce our vulnerability to such attacks. Dependence: The social and economic dependence many women experience in relationships with men puts us in a tricky position. Statistics show that sexual aggression often comes from the same population of men we rely on for support and protection. Economic independence and self-reliance do not prevent sexual assault, but they do help women to deal more effectively with it. Isolation: Both lack of information and the socialized dependence of women isolate us from our best source of support: other women. We often contribute to this isolation ourselves, perhaps because of a desire to repress a painful experience or a belief that other women are ineffective allies. Though we may approach other women as good listeners who commiserate with us over problems, we don't learn to act together to successfully confront aggression. Forexample, when sexual harassment occurs in the work place, the victim's isolation increases her vulnerability. If she could find support from co-workers and if they confront the harasser as a group, not only would the isolation of the victim diminish, but the problem itself might be more quickly resolved. prevention The best way to deal with the possibility of sexual assault in our lives is to prevent it from happening in the first place. As we explore preventive strategies, we must remember that women are not responsible for the aggressive behaviour of men. Regardless of the reasons or the relationship, a woman always has the right to accept or refuse a sexual approach at any point in the encounter. When a woman does refuse, the man has choices about how to handle her refusal. He can accept her decision and change his own behaviour or he can ignore her decision and attempt to coerce her. He is guilty of assault if he uses direct or indirect threats, manipulates her psychologically or physically coerces her. Feeling Yes, Feeling No Both women and children can benefit from programs recently developed to deal with child sexual abuse. A simple, but effective technique in these new programs involves the notion of "Feeling yes, feeling no". Once we can distinguish between these two feelings, we can learn to respect and act on them. Acknowledging both "yes" feelings and "no" feelings prepares us to recognize sexually coercive situations without being suspicious of every sexual encounter. Page 6 Feeling yes: Learning to recognize and act on "yes" feelings is a positive experience. Feeling attracted to someone, caring about a person, getting tingling sensations when he or she is near are all part of feeling "yes". These feelings do not always have a sexual connotation. Often, fears of rejection or of appearing too eager can hold us back from expressing these feelings. Women are especiaMy conscious of not wanting to appear pushy or promiscuous. But expressing our feelings of warmth and attraction helps build the confidence we need to become equal partners in our relationships. Feeling no: These feelings are important in rec- ognizing possible sexual assault situations: a nagging feeling that something is not right; being uncomfortable and wanting to leave; feeling ill at ease with comments and suggestions from the other person; disliking the physical contact he makes. These feelings are different from the nervousness you might experience in a new relationship. Feelings of nervousness usually dis- appear; "no" feelings persist. There are two main barriers to recognizing and acting on "no" feelings. The first is fear or concern about what others think of us. This fear can often cause us to deny our feelings: "I'll look stupid if I just get up and leave. I'm probably just over-reacting anyway." The second barrier to acknowledging "no" feelings is most apparent with someone we care for. It is hard to admit that someone we know and trust would try to sexually coerce us. We may have to acknowledge that a trust has been broken and that the relationship will be affected in the future. In these situations, women and children often blame themselves for causing the other person's behaviour. Once we can recognize and respect "no" feelings, we can learn to act on them. Precautions and preventive behaviour are more useful and less crippling when they are integrated into how we live and who we are as people. Women do not have to live like hermits and should not have to change their lifestyles. We can be cautious within our relationships with men. Preventive Behaviours There is no single, correct way to handle an assault situation. The actions you take will depend on how well you know the man, how frightened you are, and how dangerous you consider the situation to be. Advice which comes in the form of NEVER... DON'T... DO... leaves many women feeling at fault for the assault. The precautions you take should be for your own peace of mind, not because they are guarantees against assault. However, there are some reactions to assault sit- uations that do not work in a woman's favour. Recent research shows that crying and pleading usually make rapists more determined. Rape is an act of power and hostility and rapists usually pick people who look like easy victims. Effective fighting back — both verbal and physical — greatly increases your chance of getting away. As you read, try to picture certain scenarios or remember experiences you have had. Consider how acting one way or another might lead you to feel more comfortable and more in control. Assaults by someone you know The most common assaults are those which occur between people who know each other. The Canadian Advisory Council on the Status of Women estimates that 1 out of every 6 women is sexually assaulted at some point in her life and that most of the time, the aggressor is known to the woman. Getting acquainted: If you are seeing someone you barely know, arrange to meet him in a restaurant, a bar or other public place. This will reduce your fears and avoid a potentially uncomfortable situation. Inviting a trusted friend and her/his date may take some of the pressure off the new relationship, as well as provide you with support if you need it. Make a practice of carrying "mad" money. This is $10 or $20, not part of your regular spending money, tucked away for emergencies. "Mad" money gives you the option of leaving whenever a situation becomes uncomfortable. When these suggestions become part of your routine behaviour, you can relax, assured that you are prepared to handle both a good and 'not so good' evening. If "no" feelings emerge, acknowledge them. You may be pressured to go somewhere less public and more difficult for you to leave (his apartment, a drive to an unknown section of town). Sexual innuendoes during the evening may not match your own feelings. Tell your date you are uncomfortable with his comments and suggestions. Page 7 If you find that the person does not listen to you and is intent on sexual activity, talking will not get you very far. You might be embarrassed and not know how to leave gracefully; excuse yourself, go to the bathroom and leave from there. You do not owe politeness to someone who has chosen to ignore your feelings. The best strategy, always, is to leave before a situation becomes dangerous. Sometimes your judg- ment might be wrong. You might be accused of paranoid behaviour or of over-reacting. However, as a potential victim, it is better to terminate an un- comfortable meeting rather than wait and have your fears confirmed. Recognizing, acknowledging and acting on "no" feelings will build confidence and enable you to recognize good feelings when they come along. On-going sexual relationships: Statistics on the incidence of wife battering in North America show that 1 in 10 women is beaten by the man with whom she lives. This violence is often accompanied by sexual coercion, but statistics on sexual assault within ongoing relationships are difficult to obtain. Patterns are set early in a relationship. Where both partners are actively involved in making decisions and expressing needs and desires, conflicts around sexu- ality can be handled in ways other than by forcing one partner to comply with the wishes of the other. If your partner has an aggressive character and displays violent behaviour toward inanimate objects (bangs walls and tables), this violence may eventually be directed toward you and your children. Men who express frustration and stress violently usually have a long history of doing so. They are not likely to change without acknowledging the problem and then making a concerted effort to resolve it. As with any dangerous situation, your first concern should be to remove yourself from the scene until tempers have cooled. When you return, talk with your partner about the ways this violence affects you. Involving a third person — a friend, a social worker, a couple counsellor — is often effective. If your partner resists or does not take your reaction seriously, you may have to consider leaving the relationship to avoid assault. Sexual coercion and violence in a marriage is rarely a one time event. After the first outburst, the man may regret his behaviour and make sincere promises never to do it again. Regardless of his good intentions, research shows that once battering or sexual coercion occurs in a relationship, it is likely to recur with increasing frequency and intensity. Although submission to sexual coercion may seem like a practical means of dealing with an immediate problem, compliance does not decrease the degree of violence or the possibility that it will recur. The longer a woman puts up with beatings, the more difficult it is to get out of the situation. A "victim mentality" begins to develop which makes it hard for a woman to act in her own interest. Women who have submitted to violence and sexual coercion over long periods speak of low self-esteem and of developing a belief that they deserve such punishment. They feel very isolated and unworthy of potential sources of support. The best long term strategy for dealing with sexual assault in an on-going relationship is to immediately acknowledge that it has occurred. Speak to someone who will take your concerns seriously and will help you explore your options. This can be difficult because you may encounter reactions which blame you for causing the violence or which seek to maintain the marriage at any cost. Since many relationships that include sexual coercion do not change, you may need support to leave. You may have to look beyond your immediate community for resources to support this decision — centres for battered women, crisis lines, a place to stay until a new life can be established. Non-sexual relationships: Often friendships between men and women will go through a period in which one of the friends fantasizes about adding a sexual di- mension to the friendship. Changing the friendship into a sexual relationship must be agreeable to both parties. Prevention of sexual coercion in a friendship depends on open, frank communication. A discussion of how sexual involvement could affect the relationship and of why one person is eager and the other is not, may help carry the friendship through such a conflict. If your reluctance is not taken seriously and you feel that you are not being heard, your best option is to leave. You may risk losing the friendship but you will prevent the situation from getting out of hand. Difficulties can also arise because the two of you have friends in common. Relations with them may also be affected if they want to know why you are avoiding someone who was a mutual friend. Though you may be unsure of their support and understanding, remaining silent about someone's coercive behaviour only serves to protect him. Remember that the man made his own choice and that you have the right to refuse his approaches. Economic and professional relationships: If an employer, teacher or doctor makes sexual comments or suggests inappropriate encounters, make your discomfort known from the very beginning. Often this is enough to put an end to sexual harassment. Should the harasser continue, consider other options. Many work places and academic institutions have policies and procedures to handle sexual harassment. Find out what these are before the situation becomes too stressful and you risk losing your job, failing a course or receiving bad health care. Showing the harasser that you are aware of your rights and intend to follow through with some action is a good strategy if his harassing escalates. PageS Discuss the situation with fellow classmates or workers. Harassers rarely have a single victim so you may find that others share your experience and are able to offer you support. Together you can pressure the harasser to stop and you will feel less isolated in dealing with the problem. Sexual harassment is very stressful. Many women deal with it by leaving the situation at the first opportunity. This might offer a short term solution for one individual, but it does not prevent the harasser from continuing such behaviour toward other women. Children and known adults: Children should know that sexual coercion can occur with adults they know. Teaching children to distinguish between "yes" and "no" feelings will help them recognize inappropriate adult behaviour and give them some sense of their right to refuse. A child should be told who to go to should such coercion occur. If you don't feel comfortable discussing the "no" feelings with your child, find someone the child trusts who can speak to her/him in an open, constructive way. Some communities have programs to teach children preventive behaviours toward sexual assault and abuse. Child Assault Prevention (CAP) is one such program. In a gentle, cooperative atmosphere, children learn to recognize and act on "no" feelings. CAP groups are usually willing to offer their program in schools or community centres. Assaults by a stranger Situations where strangers are present cannot be avoided and since women do not initiate assault, rape prevention is not the responsibility of the potential victim. You can, however, develop an awareness of where these attacks occur most frequently, what kind of people the assailants are and how you might make yourself less vulnerable to potential attacks. You can learn actions to throw the assailant off guard to allow time for escape, as well as effective means of fighting back if escape is not immediately possible. At home: The first step is to take a few precautions to "attack proof" your home. These suggestions are not only helpful in preventing assault, but also guard against theft and break-ins. Locks and curtains on the windows and a chain on the door make your home less accessible to intruders. If you are living alone, list your name in the phone book and on the mailbox in a neutral fashion (e.g. Parker, L.) so strangers won't know whether the occupant is male or female. Many people now have telephone answering ma- chines. A message that does not specify if you are out is a good idea and discourages unwanted intruders. A dog barking in the background of the message will also deter someone from entering while you are out. When you are home alone and are not sure about a person at the door (those "no" feelings are there), leave the door chained and ask to see the person's card. Tell him you will call the company to check if his presence is legitimate. This involves overcoming a desire to be polite and compliant with strangers, but the Ontario rape crisis centre caseload reveals that over 30% of the incidents reported to them involve someone disguised as a friend of a friend, an appliance repairman, a delivery person, etc. If his presence is not legitimate, the intruder will most likely leave very quickly. If you are alone and someone does enter (such as the serviceman you called earlier), leave the door unlocked and open. Have an idea where you might go for help should the situation become threatening. Should you find yourself with a stranger who has come to your apartment with the intention of assault, try not to spend time pondering what you did or did not do to get into this situation. A firm, deep-voiced "Get out now!" may give the attacker the message that you are not an easy victim. You can either back up your words with a physical act intended to allow you to escape or plan an escape at the first opportunity. Choose an exit which leads you to others who can help. To call for help, yell "Fire!" or something that suggests to others that helping you might also benefit them. If you live alone and are frightened a lot, do yourself a favour and buy a dog. You might find one with a loud, frightening bark but still nice to cuddle. On the street: Being alert and attentive to your environment is an important skill for women to develop, especially for walks alone. Though every person has the right to stroll or walk leisurely down a street, a woman alone rarely enjoys this pleasure. Walk tall. Look around you. Feel that you have a right to be there and try to show that feeling. Pick a route which allows you to be near activity. Try to avoid streets where there are no lights and notice which houses have lights on and which stores and restaurants are open. If you think you are being followed, cross the street and walk in the opposite direction. Should your suspicion be confirmed, plan your escape route. If you feel assertive, turn around and, in a deep, loud voice, ask the person what he wants. This may throw him off balance and may convince him that he is choosing the wrong person to victimize. Whether you confront him or not, assess the situation and act quickly. You could deter the assailant by approaching another person on the street or by going to a nearby house for help. What might be a bit embarrassing at first could save you from a dangerous situation. Some situations which are annoying for women rarely become dangerous or lead to an actual assault: exhibitionism, jeering and whistling, quick 'feels' in the buses and subways. Men who do this depend on women quietly ignoring their behaviour. Confronting them in crowded places is quite effective: say in a loud voice, "Keep your hands to yourself," "Stop touching me" or "Don't do that to me." At a bar or party: All women who have gone to bars and parties by themselves know that the possibility of having to handle unwanted "come-ons" is quite likely. Even when you go alone in orderto meet men, you still have a right to choose with whom you want to be. If a man does not leave you alone after you have asked him to, report him to the bartender or host/ess. If you are being harassed in a bar, go to the women's room. Tell another woman what is happening and ask to sit at her table for a while. You may end up making a new friend. If you are worried that he might follow you home, arrange to leave the party or bar with someone else. When you must leave alone, call a taxi and ask the driver to wait until you are safely inside your home. Page 9 Hitchhiking: There is no doubt that for many men, women who hitchhike are fair game for sexual ap- proaches. Women hitchhike for transportation, but sexist beliefs make it an uncomfortable way to travel. This is probably why its popularity is declining. Choose your rides. There is no law that you must accept any ride that stops. If, for whatever reason, you don't feel comfortable accepting a particular ride, say "No thank you" and stand back from the car. Advice about hitching usually has less to do with avoiding rape than with avoiding dangerous drivers. For instance, "Don't accept a ride from someone who is drunk and slams on his brakes to pick you up" is helpful to arrive at your destination without an accident as well as without a rape. Be flexible. Hitchhiking can be one way to meet people and often drivers who are alone welcome the company. Finding another person to hitch with can also help you feel more secure and make the time on the road less lonely. Self-defence A good strategy for sexual assault prevention is to take a women's self-defence course (Wendo, Action, Women's Self-Defence, etc.). Self-defence courses given by women for women are specifically designed to deal with the helplessness many women feel when confronted with an assault. They address the kinds of assaults commonly directed at women — from irritating harassment on the street to full fledged sexual attacks by one or more assailants. Though one in six women in North America is sexually assaulted at some point in her life, we are poorly trained, both physically and mentally, to effectively confront sexual aggression. Some so-called "experts" even counsel women to submit to sexual attacks. But research clearly shows the opposite: women who verbally and physically resist their attackers are much more likely to avoid rape and much less likely to experience depression after the attack. Usually women's self-defence training takes place in a small group setting. Women learn effective verbal and physical techniques of assertiveness and self- defence. Discussion, role-playing and practice of defence techniques are used to make the learning effective and fun. The techniques are presented in a spirit of equality and none are beyond a woman's grasp. They can be learned quickly, do not require great feats of strength and are designed to be easily integrated into a woman's personal lifestyle. Most instructors are good animators. They encourage cooperation among the participants and focus on the joy of discovering one's potential for autonomous living. Most self-defence courses can be taken during one weekend; one day per weekend for two weeks; or once a week for 5-6 weeks, 2-3 hours per session. Most women's self-defence groups offer a one or two hour "demo" — a session which introduces the philosophy, the teaching methods and a few verbal and physical techniques to illustrate how the course works. This exposure to the basics can give you a chance to decide if the course would be useful to you. Information about where and when women's self- defence courses are given and how much they cost can usually be obtained from a woman's centre, a rape crisis centre or the YWCA/YWHA in your area. Cost varies but is usually between $40-$60 for the intro- ductory course. Instructors often reduce the fee for those without means to pay the full amount. If thereare no courses available in yourcommunity, self-defence teachers are usually willing to travel if you can organize 10-1 2 students for the course. Some teachers are associated with CAP (Child Assault Prevention) and may be willing to offer a program for children as well. A note on the martial arts The traditional martial arts — judo, karate, tae kwan do, aikido, etc. — are indigenous to the Far East where they were mainly cultivated by the military aristocracy. They stress respect for the teacher and commitment to developing self-control, perseverance, integrity and courtesy. In North America, they have become a sport with competitions and clubs in many com- munities. Since the mid-sixties, many women have shown interest in these courses — both as a means to keep fit and as a means to develop their self-defence capa- bilities. While women should not be discouraged from taking the traditional martial arts, it is important to note their inherent weaknesses in preparing women to deal with sexual aggression. Traditionally a male preserve, the martial arts stress competition and combat. They do not address women's particular vulnerability to sexual assault, nor our socialized helplessness in the face of such violence. To become proficient in one of the martial arts requires many years of training. The highest grade of achievement is the black belt, obtained only after many years of study and a commitment to making the martial arts a way of life. By contrast, self-defence developed specifically for women addresses our particular vulnerability to sexual violence with techniques that are easily integrated into daily life. Women's self-defence does not require years of training to be useful or successful. Most introductory courses can be mastered in 1 2-1 5 hours. Page 10 the assault., Although chances of escape are greater in the period preceding an assault, it is important to keep looking for any way out, even while the assault is occurring. In a recent study of women's reactions to sexual attacks, women who verbally and physically resisted the rapist were usually able to avoid rape. Resistance proved effective even when assailants used or threatened to use a weapon. Crying, pleading and submission did not help women who used these strategies. They became victims of rape and often sustained more physical injuries than those who fought back. This important study shows that if a woman uses a series of strategies — from yelling and screaming to conning and negotiating to using physical force — her chances of avoiding the assault increase signif- icantly. A person's immediate reaction in a threatening situation is not always predictable. Some people freeze with fear and become immobile. Others feel a burst of adrenalin and find strength they never knew they had. Still others act very calmly and clearly at the time but crumble in a flood of emotional fear and tears several days later. People don't always react the way they imagine they would when actually confronted with an assault. If you have faced a threatening situation and know your response, you can take this into account. Otherwise, be assured: you will do what you can at the time. An assault may last a few minutes or several hours. During this time, you can try several actions either to escape or make the situation easier to endure. The following are not behaviour codes, but ideas which can be useful during a sexual assault: — Stay aware. Try to focus on your assailant's weak points. There may be different times during the assault when the assailant is less in control, not keeping an eye on you, etc. — Try different tactics — both physical and verbal. Negotiate, con, lie, kick, yell. Keep the assailant aware that you are not going to make it easy for him to assault you. — When the aggressor is someone you know, state how you feel. This reaffirms your own conviction of not wanting to be coerced. It also makes it more difficult for the man to imagine that women enjoy such abuse. Expressing your feelings is especially important when you have an on-going relationship with the man. You do not want your submission to be interpreted as a positive response. — When the assailant is a stranger, try to memorize as much around you as you can. Pay particular attention to what the aggressor looks like, since you will be asked to describe him should you decide to report to the police. Women who use physical resistance during an attack are less likely to be depressed afterward. Remembering this during the assault can give you the conviction and confidence to resist the rapist. Page 1 1 ...after an assault After a sexual assault, there are many decisions to consider at a time when you may feel least capable of decision-making. Though making decisions may seem like an intrusion, it can help you regain some control in your life. Consider these questions first: — Who should you call for emotional support? — Should you report the assault to police? — Where should you go for medical care? — Should you prosecute and go to court? The questions are listed in a sequence to facilitate decision-making. For example, calling someone for emotional support makes meeting the police easier to handle. Where you go for medical care may depend on whether or not you intend to report the rape to the police. Getting emotional support The single most important action to take following an assault is to find someone who can provide you with emotional support and guidance. Once you feel that you are being cared for, supported and listened to, other decisions are easier to make. Choosing a support person: The attitudes you confront right after the assault can help you feel better — or worse — about yourself. The person you call should be someone who: — is on your side; — is easy to confide in; — can be trusted to keep in confidence any details you do not wish to share with others; — will not be judgmental; — can respect your decisions; — is dependable and available when needed; — can deal with people like policemen, doctors, social workers and lawyers. At a time like this, the people closest to you are sometimes, but not always, the best sources of support. Husbands, boyfriends, parents may be so upset that they may also need help dealing with your assault. Giving support: If you are supporting someone who has been assaulted, it is important to: — reassure her that it is not her fault; — listen, understand and encourage hertoexpress her feelings, whatever they may be; — help her make decisions which are in her best interest; — be careful not to pressure her. Although there are some time constraints, consider one thing at a time: proceed slowly but consistently. If you are unsure of the procedures or of the services available in your area, call a resource person. The decision to seek help from someone who knows the ropes (a social worker, a counsellor from the rape crisis centre, a therapist) should be discussed with the victim. Choose a person who is trustworthy and with whom you both feel comfortable. Assure the victim that you will still be there for her. Victims of sexual assault, especially children and mentally handicapped people, need to hear a clear message of support: — "I believe you." — "I'm glad you told me." — "It is not your fault." — "I will help you." Page 12 Deciding to report to the police The final decision about whether to report the rape to the police belongs to the victim of the assault. She must deal with the procedures, attitudes and decisions of the police. This is not an easy decision to make, especially since it must be made very shortly after the assault. Some factors to consider include: — Will you have adequate support when you meet the police? — Do you want the experience to remain pri vate? If so, can the police assure privacy? — Has the assailant threatened retaliation if you report the assault? — Do you feel an obligation to take some action against the aggressor? — Do you intend toapplyforvictim'scompensation? Is it necessary to report to the police to qualify for compensation?* When thinking about these questions, remember that in most places there are several methods for reporting a rape to the police. In the United States, each state has different procedures and requirements. In Canada, sexual assault laws are under federal jurisdiction, but procedures can vary slightly from province to province. Some of the alternative ways to report assaults are: 1. For the record: You might want to declare the assault, but not to pursue the case to trial. The usual reasons for this type of reporting are: a) to keep evidence on file in case the assailant assaults another woman at a later date; b) to provide information to police in case the assailant has assaulted other women; and c) to contribute to the compiling of assault statistics. Sometimes the police contact the assailant for a reprimand, especially when he is known to you. They usually discuss this with you beforehand. The legal system has the option to bring charges against an assailant and issue you a subpoena as a witness to the case. Despite your reservations about prosecution, they may believe that the case is a strong one and that the assailant should be brought to court. Although this occurs rarely, when it does happen, the case usually receives a lot of publicity in the media. 2. Going to court: If you decide to bring the assailant to court, reporting to the police is the first step in a series of actions which will culminate in a trial. You or a friend should call the police as soon after the event as possible. Do not bathe or change In Canada (except in Prince Edward Island), assault victims can apply for compensation. To be eligible, the assault must be reported to the police as soon after the crime as possible. A medical examination must substantiate the claim of physical and psychological damage. Accident compensation pays medical costs not covered by medicare (therapy, prescriptions, etc.) and a percentage of salary lost while you are unable to work. You do not have to prosecute in order to make a claim and receive compensation. In most provinces, you have one year from the date of the assault to file your claim. If the Board decides that a hearing is necessary, it would be wise to seek legal advice. You can call the Crime Victim's Compensation, a division of Workman's Compensation, for more details. clothes until the necessary evidence has been col- lected. Usually, two constables arrive where you are staying and ask you to describe what happened. They also accompany you and your friend to the hospital for a medical examination and health care. 3. Third party reporting: A woman having difficulty speaking about the event but who would like it to be reported can have a friend call the police or the local rape crisis centre. Both of these places keep statistical records on assaults. Although rape crisis centres always accept third party reports, not all police departments do. This option, when available, allows the woman to make a report and to keep the assault private at the same time. Given these options, we recommend that you con- sider some form of reporting. One factor which can help change attitudes about rape is affirmative action by more women saying "I have been sexually assaulted". Whether this statement is made for the record, with the intent of going to court, or merely to help in the task of compiling statistics, the magnitude of the problem is harder to ignore when it is consistently identified. Since 1969, reported rapes have increased by 125%. Going for medical care We recommend a medical examination, whether or not you have obvious injuries from struggle or battering, for the following reasons: 1) An initial visit soon after the assault will detect any hidden injuries and deal with the prevention of pregnancy and of sexually transmitted diseases. 2) If you decide to press charges, additional tests are done to gather medical evidence. 3) Follow-up visits will permit the diagnosis of pregnancy and/or sexually transmitted diseases, and their resolution. It is not always easy to choose where to go for medical care. Each option (private doctor, community clinic or hospital emergency ward) has its advantages and disadvantages. The local rape crisis centre prob- ably has information on the facilities available which will suit your needs. In making your choice, consider the following: Cost/compensation: In Canada most medical ser- vices are covered by government health plans. In the USA, cost may be a deciding factor. What are the fees? Are the forms for victim's compensation avail- able? Will the doctor take the time to complete them? Hours: Not all private and clinic doctors can be reached after hours. Even though emergency depart- ments are open 24 hours a day, you may have to wait either for the arrival of a doctor who specializes in assault cases or for the doctor on duty in emergency. Atmosphere: Your family doctor may offer you the comfort of familiarity as well as a degree of privacy. Many community clinics have policies to give assault victims priority care and to respect your needs as much as possible. Emergency wards are often im- personal and depressing, and it may be more difficult to have your needs met (for example, to have a friend with you in the examining room). Page 13 Treatment and care: Private doctors are not always experienced with treating rape victims. Nor are they usually equipped to test for sexually transmitted diseases. Community clinics may be better equipped; they also have a more varied personnel (social, psychological, etc.) who may be useful to you. The quality of care varies a lot from one emergency department to another. It is certainly the place to go if you have been seriously injured. v ./ IS**"""*' Medical testimony: If there is any possibility that you might press charges, it is important that the doctor fills out your chart properly and collects any relevant medical evidence. Not all doctors are familiar with these procedures. Many are unwilling to testify in court. Hospital personnel are the most likely to be experienced in these matters. In the US, some hospitals refuse to examine a victim unless the police have been notified. In some areas of Canada and the United States, women who wish to press charges must first go to a medico-legal centre for examinations and tests needed for medical evidence in court. Often medico-legal centres do not provide medical care, and you will need to see a doctor after the evidence has been collected. If you don't have serious injuries or don't want to press charges, a medical examination and treatment can be done several hours or even the day after the assault. It is only for preserving and collecting evidence that women are told not to eat, bathe or change their clothes. If legal procedures are not your priority, you may delay the examination while you pull yourself together, try to relax, be comforted, etc. If you are unsure about pressing charges and want to leave the possibility open, keep your body and clothes in the same condition as they were at the end of the assault (see page 16). At the doctor's office, clinic or hospital, you will be asked many questions. The doctor needs enough information about what happened during the assault to do a proper physical examination — were you beaten and where, did penetration take place and with what, etc. The doctor will also ask about your medical background to determine which medications s/he can prescribe. Stress from an assault can make slipping back into normal living routines difficult. If you think a few days off work or school would be helpful foryourwellbeing, ask for a letter justifying your absence. The doctor does not need to specify that you were raped; "absence for medical reasons" will suffice, except for insurance companies which won't pay without a diagnosis. Treatment of injuries: The doctor will want to know where you hurt. S/he will probably give you a thorough examination since you may be in a state of shock and not feel anything yet. The doctor looks for any bruises or lacerations incurred during the assault — shoulder, back and elbow scrapes; face and head injuries; bites; etc. A shot of tetanus toxoid is required for open wounds if you have not had a tetanus shot within the past five years. Even if you have not been beaten, you will probably be stiff from the stress and tension of the assault. You may want to ask for some aspirinorpain killers for any soreness you mightfeel. The doctor will perform a gynecological examination to look for any internal damage to the vagina and cervix. Though difficult to endure so soon after an assault, the examination is necessary. If you have not seen the doctor before, ask her or him to be gentle and to take your recent experience into account. The exam includes both a speculum and bi-manual exami- nation (see diagrams). You may want to ask for something to help you sleep for the next few nights. The doctor may ask about suicidal feelings and limit the number of pills prescribed at one time. Pregnancy prevention: The Canadian Advisory Council on the Status of Women estimates that pregnancy occurs in about 12% of sexual assaults. If you were not using contraception at the time and are worried about pregnancy, there are three possible actions to take: 1. Take a drug to prevent pregnancy. The most common "morning after" pill is Ovral — one of the strongest birth control pills on the market. Two tablets are taken immediately, followed by 2 more tablets 12 hours later. Ovral may prevent ovulation or, if ovulation has occurred, prevent the fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus. You might experience nausea and vomiting; a drug such as Gravol can be taken at the same time to prevent nausea. Your period after the "morning after" pill can be early, on time or late. If you do become pregnant when using Ovral, there is a slight risk of malformation of the fetus. D.E.S., diethylstibestrol, has also been used to prevent pregnancy. Because of its dangerous side Page 14 effects, it should not be used. A woman who has been trying to get pregnant should probably not take the "morning after" pill. A blood test, called Beta-HCG, can show if you were already pregnant at the time of the assault. 2. Have a menstrual extraction when your period is due. During a menstrual extraction, a small plastic tube is inserted into the uterus to withdraw the uterine lining. It will remove an embryo that is present. This option may be a difficult experience for some women, since it follows so soon after the assault. In the U.S., menstrual extractions can sometimes be obtained at women's self-help clinics without proof of pregnancy. However, in Canada, menstrual ex- tractions are only performed as an early abortion, so proof of pregnancy is required. 3. Wait to see whether your menstrual period is late. If it is, a pregnancy test should be taken 4-6 weeks (depending on the test) after the first day of your last period. This will ensure reliable results. Testing for sexually transmitted diseases (STD): These infections are spread from one person to another by some form of sexual contact. The spread of AIDS has created greater concern about STDs amongst victims of sexual assault, both for themselves and for their regular partner. Having sexual contact with an infected person does not mean you will automatically be infected. Venereal warts, herpes and crabs are diagnosed by looking at the skin and genitals. If you have a painful sore, go immediately for care. Early treatment of the first episode of herpes decreases the time of discomfort. Gonorrhea and chlamydia often cause no symptoms. If penetration occurred, swabs are taken from the appropriate orifice. Depending on the lab, results are available within a week. The diagnosis of vaginal infections is based on your symptoms and the examination of any discharge under the microscope. Syphilis, hepatitis B and HIV infection are diagnosed with blood tests which detect antibodies. Since it takes time for the body to make antibodies, these tests are repeated at certain intervals. For further information, see the STD Hand- book, also published by the Montreal Health Press. The risk of infection depends on the kind of sexual contact, its duration, whether injuries occur and if sores or infection are already present. Testing for STDs immediately after an assault only tells you if you were already infected. Concerns that these results could be used against you in court have led some centres to stop doing them. Others feel these tests are useful for victims' compensation claims. To reduce the pressure of deciding whether to be tested for HIV (the virus linked with AIDS) immediately after an assault, some centres refer victims to anonymous testing centres within 48 hours. Others have arranged to take the blood sample immediately but to allow the person to decide later on to have it tested or not. Some states are considering laws to force people accused of sexual assault to submit to STD testing. Proponents of these laws feel women would get better care if they knew whether or not the aggressor had certain infections. Those opposed feel they violate the accused's civil rights. Tests are not perfect and the results may take too long to make an important difference in care for the victim. Another controversy is whether a victim should take medications to try to prevent getting an infection. For some people, preventive treatment is reassuring; for others, it feels like something else forced on them. You should discuss your situation with the nurse or doctor caring for you. For example, if you were forced to have sex with a person with whom you have sex frequently without condoms, you should probably wait for test results. If you were raped by several people, you might consider preventive treatment. If you live in a big city with high STD rates, you might be more open to taking treatment than if you live in a rural area. Antibiotics are used to prevent gonorrhea and chlamydia. Page 15 Vaccination against Hepatitis B is effective if begun soon after exposure. It is not known whether drugs such as AZT successfully prevent infection with HIV. Not every irritation is a venereal disease. It is normal to be swollen and irritated after being penetrated roughly. You may also have a sense of "dirtiness" and your concerns about STDs may make you wonder if what you are feeling is normal. Going for follow-up tests will reassure you that either you have not been infected or that you have been adequately treated. Follow-up visits for STDs are suggested at 2 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months, 6 months and one year and at any other time if you have symptoms. You should consider using condoms for sex with penetration for at least 6 months. You mightfind itdifficultto remember to have these tests done several weeks or months after the assault. While you are trying to forget the experience and get back into your regular routines, such tests and exami- nations can be sore reminders of the painful experience. Ask the person who has supported you through the initial decisions to remind you about follow-up appointments. The effort will ensure that there are no lingering medical problems to deal with in the future. Deciding to press charges The decision to prosecute will probably be made jointly by the police and the woman who has been assaulted. Forthe woman, it is a commitment to follow through a long, legal process which culminates in the trial. Several factors should be seriously considered before any decision is made: — What kind of support will you have during this process? — Are you prepared for the time span between the initial report and the actual trial? — If you have a fear of retaliation from the assailant, can you get the security and protection you require? — What is the police's attitude about pressing charges? — Are you aware of what the trial experience will involve? — What is the possibility of conviction in this case? Support: Pressing charges involves a need for continual support as you proceed through the legal maze on your way to the courtroom. Ideally, there should be at least one person with whom you feel comfortable and who is willing to make a commitment to be with you through the whole process. Rape crisis and sexual assault centre workers often accompany victims through legal proceedings, explaining procedures and giving legal support when needed. Both emotional support and practical information are necessary. Time span: Following through with the prosecution usually takes 1 year to 18 months from the initial report of the assault to the actual trial. Postponements of court dates or appeals may make this process even longer. In some provinces and states, the backlog of cases has prompted lawyers and judges to settle certain cases out of court through a process called "plea bargaining". Although this may result in charges and sentences which do not reflect the nature and severity of the crime, cases are resolved more quickly and you might be spared the trial experience if the assailant pleads guilty to a lesser charge. Though your involvement will not be continuous over this time period, your presence is required for key events: identification of the assailant, meetings with the prosecutor, the preliminary inquiry and the trial. Because of the long time delay, it is a good idea to write down your version of the assault shortly after it occurs. You can read it before each event. Fear of retaliation: You may fear that the assailant will retaliate if you press charges. This is often true when you know the man. He may have threatened you during the assault or after you pressed charges against him. You will have to judge how your fear of the assailant will affect your everyday life, since these proceedings could last over a year. The police are unlikely to offer you protection for that whole period. With the support of friends and family, you can decide what measures to take for the peace of mind you need. In most cases, one condition of bail is that there is no contact with the victim. The assailant is warned that breaking this condition of bail could result in additional charges being laid. Most likely he will leave you alone. Police attitudes: In most places, it is the police who decide if a charge will be laid. This decision is made after consultation with a prosecuting lawyer. The police consider three factors: — How committed are you to follow through with the charges? — How will the case hold up in court? - How will you hold up in court? This decision is rarely based on whether or not the police believe your story. If they believe that, on the basis of the available evidence, the assailant is likely to be acquitted, they may see no reason for you to go through the trial. Recent talks with police indicate that Page 16 the new legislation is producing higher conviction rates than in the past. For this reason they are increasing their efforts to encourage victims to prosecute. Technically, the victim does not bring the assailant to trial; the Crown (in Canada) or the State (in the U.S.) actually presses charges. You are the main witness to the event and your testimony provides the most important evidence in the case. Although the assailant can be brought to trial despite the reluctance of the victim (you would receive a subpoena to appear in court), this is rarely done. Only in cases where none of the victims has offered to prosecute and where the suspect is considered dangerous will the police and lawyers consider this action. There is little chance of a conviction when the main witness is hostile to the proceedings. The trial: Since most people have never been to criminal court, this experience may be new and a little frightening. The atmosphere, the language and the procedures are very formal and different from the police station and the medico-legal examination. Time permitting, it is a good idea to go to court and observe a sexual assault case before you make your decision about prosecution. This can help you make your decision and familiarize you with the proceedings when your own case comes up. For sexual assault victims, the trial can be particularly gruelling. Despite Canada's progressive new laws, you may feel that you , and not the suspect, are on trial. You will need solid support from people close to you during this time. Possibility of conviction: The conviction rate for sexual assault is lower than for any other indictable offense. Based on FBI and other U.S. statistics, a man brought to court on a rape charge has about a 12% chance of being convicted of the crime. By contrast, the conviction rates in the U.S. for murders and aggravated assaults are 79% and 64%, respectively. In Canada, under the old rape laws, the picture was no less discouraging. Only about 50% of the rape cases which made it to court resulted in conviction. The actual conviction rate for rapes and sexual assault was more around the 7% mark, because only 1 in 10 rapes was reported to the police and about 37% of these were declared "unfounded". New legislation in Canada has helped this situation somewhat. In I985, 95% of cases reported to police resulted in charges being laid. But of the cases that made it to court, only 45% resulted in convictions. The rate of conviction depends on the degree of violence (the level of the assault charge, see page 20). For simple sexual assault resulting in no physical injury, the conviction rate is 40%. For sexual assault with a weapon, the rate is 60% and for aggravated sexual assault, the conviction rate is 70%. Once you decide to go to court, you cannot count on a conviction. The prosecutor and the police will have an idea if there is a good chance of conviction, but there are no guarantees. A suspect may not be convicted for technical reasons — lack of evidence, improper procedures, etc. Some victims proceed with the court case despite the low conviction rate, because the cost of the process, the time and energy involved and the damage to his reputation are prices that the rapist pays even if he is acquitted. Going through the legal process A decision to press charges means that you must follow the medical and legal protocol set up by the authorities in your area. It is a good idea to call the nearest rape crisis centre. People there know the protocol, may be able to be with you and your support person through the process, and can inform you of your rights and the purpose of certain procedures. Some rape crisis and sexual assault centre workers have a working relationship with police, doctors and lawyers who handle sexual assault cases. If you have been injured or beaten during the assault, it is important for the police to see your condition before you get cleaned up and treated. Your body and clothing form an important part of the evidence needed for the case. Do not bathe or douche until the medico-legal examination has been completed. This is especially true in states where proof of penetration is required. If you were forced to perform oral sex, try not to eat or drink anything until the tests are completed. Put your torn clothing, even if there is not much of it left, in a bag and give it to the police. Take fresh clothes with you to the medical examination. People you meet throughout the legal process (police, doctors and lawyers) will have various attitudes toward women and sexual assault victims. Some may treat you as if the rape was you r fault (see Part 1 1 , page 27-29) . Others may not believe your story and suggest that you are calling it rape merely because you are angry at the suspect for other reasons (See Part II, page 30). Some may be genuinely sympathetic and understanding, giving you real support. Consistent support from friends and family is crucial to deal with these attitudes. The initial report: When the police are first called with a report of an assault, two officers arrive where you are staying. Depending on the area, these officers could be two constables on duty in the neighbourhood; two police officers who work on the 'rape squad'; or two detectives who handle most of the rape inves- tigations. Page 1 7 These officers will ask for a description of the assault. They take note of your appearance, your reactions to their questions and your behaviour. They are responsible for collecting any evidence which can be used to identify the suspect, establish lack of consent and support your story. They will then accompany you to the place where the medico-legal examination is done. Most police departments have a required protocol which assault victims who wish to prosecute must follow — i.e. the exam must take place in certain hospitals or centres where the doctor is known to be reliable and available for testimony. However, some police departments allow you to choose the doctor and place of exami- nation if they are assured that the proper medical procedures will be followed and the doctor agrees to testify in court. The medico-legal examination: The purpose of this examination is to collect evidence for the prose- cution. How you experience this examination depends largely on the sensitivity of the doctor. A sympathetic doctor who examines and collects evidence in a gentle manner can help ease the trauma of the examination and the assault. A cold, condescending approach can make you feel that the exam is another invasion of your privacy, another act of humiliation. It is not up to the doctor to make a "diagnosis" of rape, only to take evidence. If you are committed to pressing charges, this examination must be done. Different places may require some of these proce- dures and not others. In some places in the U.S., a police officer or detective must be present during the examination to protect you and to see that testing is done according to the law. You may be uncomfortable with this and request that the officer be out of view. S/hewill usually comply, since this isan uncomfortable aspect of police work. You may also request that someone be with you for support during the exami- nation (friend, rape crisis counselor, etc.). The police may not feel it's necessary to be present if they know the doctor is familiar with the legal protocol. When the doctor or nurse on duty is the first person to see you after the assault, s/he is required to take a statement from you about what happened. Both a detailed account of the assault and your emotional state upon arrival at the hospital are recorded. This forms part of the evidence in the case. The hospital staff notes the condition of your clothing and places each piece in a separate bag and labels it. The clothes are tested for seminal stains (presence of semen) and blood stains, as well as other clues to corroborate your story and to identify the assailant, i.e. blades of grass, rug fibers, sperm, etc.. Your injuries are noted, described and possibly photographed. Some places require permission from you before photographs are taken. If bruises become visible several days after the assault, call the police and ask that further photographs be taken. This evidence is crucial to determine the severity of the attack. An internal and external gynecological examination is done to check for any injuries to the genitals. Secretions are collected from the vagina to establish the presence of sperm or any other foreign substances. A small syringe is inserted and fluid collected from deep inside the vagina. When there is not much secretion, a small amount of saline solution (salt water) is inserted into the vagina and then withdrawn. Your pubic hair and hair from other parts of the body are combed and samples taken to be analyzed . If appropriate, swabs from your mouth and anus are also taken to test for the presence of sperm. If you have been drugged, blood and urine samples are taken to test the drug level. The doctor may also scrape beneath your fingernails for skin which may belong to the assailant. This evidence is used to establish the extent of your struggle and the identification of the assailant, if unknown. If you have bite marks on your body, a dental specialist may be called in to collect evidence that will help identify the assailant. There are three major contradictions in the medico-legal examination: 1) Many tests are done to identify the assailant even though he is known in most cases. When the issue of "consent" is at question, any well recorded, regular examination is adequate as evidence of injury. 2) Evidence collected from your body for the pur- pose of identifying an unknown suspect is rarely used. Tests such as sperm identification, blood typing, samples of pubic hair and nail scrapings suggest that similar tests are done on the suspect to match the evidence. Since a suspect cannot be forced to undergo testing, evidence collected from you is only useful when he has a previous record and the information is in his file. 3) Semen collected from the vagina to provide proof of penetration only provides proof of ejac- ulation. Often confused in the courtroom is- the fact that penetration and ejaculation are a) not the same thing, and b) do not always happen together. Page 18 Once these tests are completed, you must still look after your medical needs (see page 12). Health care is not always included in the medico-legal examination, whose main purpose is to collect the evidence for the case. The Quebec government spent thousands of dollarsdeveloping and distributing a "sexual assault kit" to help health workers better meet the needs of rape victims and to streamline the medico-legal process of collecting evidence. Unfortunately, needs of the victim are lost in a protocol that turns out to betimeconsuming and complicated. Although use- ful in extreme cases, such as gang rape, "the kit" is inappropriate for most sexual assault cases. The government is now preparing a simplified version of the kit. It is unfortunate that so much money was spent on an inadequate "sexual assault kit", when so little money is available for rape crisis centres and prevention programs. The investigation: The detectives' investigation begins shortly after the initial report and medical examination. Several days after the initial report, one or two detectives will visit you. They ask you again to describe the assault. They either prepare a statement from what you have told them and ask you to sign it or they ask you to write what happened in your own words. Keep a copy of this statement or write another one out for yourself. Before the preliminary inquiry and the trial, use this to remember all the details of the assault. Some detectives are understanding and try to make the questioning as painless as possible. Others hold some of the popular beliefs discussed in Part II of this book and might treat you as the guilty party. Since you may be particularly vulnerable at this time, it is very important to have support people around. In some areas of the United States (and until recently in parts of Canada), you may be asked to take a lie detector test (polygraph) if any of the detectives on the case does not believe your story. In some places, the test is routine, though it cannot be used as evidence and you are not legally required to take it. Before the detectives leave, take down the phone numbers where they can be reached. Over the next little while, you may remember additional details which will help their investigation. During the following days and weeks, you may be asked to go to the police station to identify the suspect, if he is a stranger. You may be asked to look at mug shots, to help with a composite drawing, or, if someone is apprehended, to identify him in a line-up. After the suspect has been apprehended and iden- tified, a bail hearing may be held. This is done when the suspect is considered either dangerous to the community or unlikely to show up for the trial. You are not required to attend. If no bail hearing is held, the suspect is released on his own recognizance (his word that he will show up for the trial). When the detectives finish collecting the evidence and preparing the case, the information is sent to the Crown (or State) prosecutor. If the accused pleads guilty to the charge, no trial is needed and you do not have to testify in court. You may be asked to testify at a sentence hearing. Depending on the degree of violence and injury, a sexual assault is tried as a summary conviction or an indictable offence. A summary conviction is a less serious crime (a stranger forced you to kiss him, you were harassed on a bus). It carries a lesser fine and the trial is convened very shortly after the offence. The more serious indictable offence carries stiffer penalties and more complicated judicial procedures, including a preliminary inquiry before the trial, must be followed. Meeting the prosecutor: Before the preliminary inquiry, you will meet the Crown (or State) prosecutor. S/he is the lawyer who tries to prove that an assault did take place between you and the accused. This meeting may occur a few minutes or a few days before the preliminary inquiry. Lawyers who work as prosecutors are on salary and do not choose, the cases they represent. In some areas, certain prosecutors are assigned to most assault cases. They usually have little control, however, in determining how much time they can spend on any one case. Most prosecutors work in this way to gain experience for their own future law firms. Some prosecutors are very good at preparing sexual assault victims for the trial experience. They can show you the kind of treatment to expect in the courtroom and instruct you on how to handle distasteful questions, and still remain supportive. Other prosecutors leave you feeling like no one is representing your interests. You may feel as harassed by the prosecutor as by the defence lawyer. Because of these difficulties, some women choose to pay for the services of a private lawyer. A private lawyer assists the Crown and cannot represent the case, but does work with you. You see your own lawyer several times before the hearing, allowing you to establish some rapport and trust. You will probably get more information about court proceedings and the central issues of the trial. The main disadvantage is the high lawyers' fees; therefore, this is not an Page 19 option for the majority of rape victims. To avoid having your name publicized in media coverage of the assault trial, you must ask the prose- cutor to request a non publication order from the judge. In sexual assault cases, these are usually granted, but they must be requested by the Crown at the very beginning of the preliminary inquiry and the trial. The preliminary inquiry: The time it takes for a case to come to a preliminary hearing depends on how busy the courts are and whether or not the suspect has been released on bail. It usually takes place within 6 to 9 months after the assault. The purpose of the hearing is to decide if there is enough evidence to warrant a trial and to give the defence counsel and the accused a chance to hear the Crown's evidence. This is a weeding-out process within the judicial system. The decision to proceed to trial is made by the judge after all the evidence has been presented. The preliminary inquiry is much like a trial only shorter. All witnesses are called to the stand, ques- tioned and cross-examined. The procedure usually lasts no longer than one day. Within the next few months, the judge decides if there is enough evidence for the case to proceed to trial. If you are not notified of the trial date after 2-3 months, call the police officers handling your case or the Crown prosecutor. You have a right to know what is happening in the case. The trial: The trial follows the preliminary inquiry. Again, the amount of time between these two events depends on how busy the courts are and whether the suspect is out on bail or in jail. Sometimes the trial date is set and later postponed at the request of the defence counsel. Expect a 6 to 9 month delay between the inquiry and the trial. The trial usually lasts about 4 days. The trial is held in criminal court. The suspect, as any defendant, has the right to choose a trial by judge or a trial by judge and jury. A jury trial is usually requested because precedence shows that a trial by jury has a better chance of acquittal. The suspect does not have to testify at his own trial. As a witness at a criminal trial, your travel costs and a small meal allowance are paid by the court. You may also request a small witness fee, but the court does not reimburse you for salary lost during the trial. Speak to the Crown prosecutor about what the court provides, and ask your union or work place about provisions for employees who must appear in court. A defence lawyer uses different types of arguments to prove the innocence of the suspect: 1) Lack of positive identification of the suspect: In this case, the defence lawyer attempts to prove that the suspect is not the man who assaulted you. They do not question /fthe assault occurred; the question is who did it. This type of defence is usually used when the man is a stranger to the victim or when there is more than one assailant. He may have an alibi that he was somewhere else at the time of the assault. 2) The victim consented to sexual activity: This is the most common defence in assault trials. The defence lawyer attempts to show that your claim of assault is false. If allowed, s/he will malign your character and sexual history to undermine the cred- ibility of your testimony. In short, the defence lawyer tries to prove that you had ulterior motives, that you consented to sex with the suspect and then changed your mind after the event. In states where the issue of penetration is crucial to the definition of "rape", defence lawyers often attempt to prove, with the support of medical evidence, that no penis-vagina contact occurred. Before the actual trial, the lawyer may try to bargain for a lesser charge (indecent assault, gross indecency) instead of the rape charge. Many statements presented by defence lawyers to the judge and/or jury resemble popular beliefs about rape victims discussed in Part II. Acquittal of suspects often depend on these negative images of women and assault victims. Some concluding statements fre- quently made by defence lawyers are paraphrased below: "Everyone knows how hard it is to make love to a woman who does not want to. How hard did this woman actually try to get away from this man?" "From the events which have been described, it seems that our 'victim' flirted and tantalized the suspect. And then, when he proceeds to indulge her wishes, she suddenly changes her mind. And what is he to do? Are these the actions of a respectable woman?" "This case actually boils down to one person's word against another's. And from past experiences, we all know the large numbers of 'unfounded' cases each year of women who cry 'rape' after they have not been sexually satisfied." You must try to separate the defence lawyer's image of you from your own self image. To hear yourself described in such negative terms can be traumatic. Because popular beliefs about rape victims are applied Page 20 to women in general, these negative images are extremely difficult to cope with. Many marriages, friendships and families have trouble handling the stress of a trial, just when you most need support. Knowing in advance that your credibility will be challenged and that you might be described in very negative terms can reduce some of the stress. After the trial: After all the evidence is heard, if there is a jury, the judge instructs the jury to render a verdict. The jury does not return to the courtroom until a decision has been reached. In a trial by judge, s/he studies all the evidence before reaching a decision. The verdict may be announced immediately or may take a few days or weeks. If a guilty verdict is reached, the judge decides on the sentence. This usually takes another few weeks. The sentence depends on the degree of the assault, the background and previous record of the rapist and a presentencing report by a probation officer. The judge may request a sentence hearing and you may be asked to testify at that time. The defendant or the Crown can ask the court of appeal to review either the verdict or the sentence. When the court of appeal agrees to hear the case again, the arguments of the lawyers and the transcripts of the trial are reviewed. If a new trial is ordered, you may be asked to testify again. Remember that even if a suspect is acquitted, he has had to pay for the court process with money, time and worry. Understanding that sexual assault cases have the lowest conviction rate for any crimes of violence may relieve some of your personal stress. Whatever the outcome, a woman who goes through a sexual assault trial is to be applauded for her courage. new assault laws in Canada In 1983, the Canadian government changed the laws governing rape and sexual offenses to resolve some of the problems inherent in the old law. Three categories of sexual assault replace the term "rape": Simple sexual assault: Any attack of a sexual nature in which some force is used. This could include forced kissing, bum pinching and forced intercourse. No sign of physical injury or abuse is necessary. As an indictable offence (see page 18), simple sexual assault carries a maximum sentence of 10 years. As a summary conviction (p. 18), the charge carries a maximum 6 months in jail and a maximum fine of $2,000. Sexual assault with a weapon: More than one assailant is involved and/or the offender uses, carries or threatens to use a weapon (imitation or real); threatens to inflict bodily harm on a third person (a child or another person present); injures the complainant. Maximum sentence for this offence is 14 years imprisonment. Aggravated sexual assault: During the assault, the victim is wounded, maimed, disfigured, brutally beaten or in danger of losing her life. The maximum sentence is life imprisonment. The "Rape Shield" law was also introduced in 1983. It severely restricted the routine examination of the victim's previous sexual history and character — a procedure which often humiliated the victim and discredited her claim of sexual assault. However, in August 1991, the Supreme Court of Canada declared the "Rape Shield" law unconstitutional because it could block evidence that might be important to the defence of the accused. This ruling forced the government to propose further legal changes that would address the age-old conflict between the rights of the accused and those of the victim. A new law, passed in June 1992, specifies when and how the victim's previous sexual history and character may be introduced during a trial. The victim's sexual history may never be used to show that she might have consented to the sexual activity in question, or that she is not worth believing. The 1992 law, sometimes called the "No Means No" law, attempts to clearly define "consent": a person's voluntary agreement, by words or conduct, to engage in sexual activity. The law also states that a person has the right to change his/her mind at any point in a sexual encounter and to withdraw consent by words or conduct. The accused will not be able to plead "honest belief of consent" as was previously possible. Progressive aspects of the law The different categories of sexual assault are defined by the extent of physical harm inflicted on the victim — an important step in recognizing sexual assault as a crime of violence, rather than of sexual impulse. Any forced sexual act constitutes sexual assault, not only penetration of the vagina. The law is no longer gender-specific and offers protection to both women and men as victims of sexual assault. The relationship between the offender and the victim prior to the offence does not determine the existence — or the gravity — of the crime. A husband is no longer immune from legal action if he sexually assaults his wife. The victim is no longer required to report the assault "at the first reasonable opportunity". In the past, the credibility of the victim was often reduced if she did not immediately tell someone about the rape. This regulation severely limited the number of victims who filed complaints. Since 1984, police reports of sexual assault have almost doubled. The law no longer requires corroboration for charges such as incest, gross indecency or any of the degrees of sexual assault. Many assault cases reported under the old law did not make it to court because there was no concrete evidence that the assault occurred (i.e. the violence was only threatened; the assailant did not ejaculate so there was no proof of penetration, etc.). Many people like the "No Means No" law because it acknowledges the fact that most sexual violence occurs between people who know each other and requires that men and women actively express their consent for each sexual act. Criticisms of the law Problems with the law are reflected in the way it is applied across the country. Its application varies from judge to judge, from court to court, and can Page 21 still reflect sexist and racist attitudes about victims and assailants. One Montreal prosecutor says that older, more traditional judges still give out light sentences to convicted rapists when the woman has had a few drinks or when she was out walking alone at night. The belief that a woman who takes such risks deserves the consequences is now reflected in the sentencing of the offender, rather than in the charge. The conviction rate for charges of simple sexual assault remains low. Although over 90% of reported cases now make it to the courtroom, only 40% result in conviction. Some civil libertarians criticize the 1992 law, recognizing that consent is not always clear-cut. They claim that a man could be accused of sexual violence just for trying to kiss a woman, or that a guy might only find out if a woman likes him after he has kissed or touched her. They are also concerned about sections of the law dealing with a person's ability to consent; will having sex with a person who is drunk put a person at risk of accusations of sexual assault? 01 i u ■6 3 Anti-stalking law In many U.S. states and in Canada since June 1993, stalking or criminal harassment is an offence. The crime involves repeated following, communicating, watching or threatening that causes a person to reasonably fear for her safety or the safety of anyone she knows. A conviction could result in a maximum 5 year sentence, which should grant increased protection to women who are obsessively pursued by ex-husbands or boyfriends. In Canada, the law also allows judges to ban convicted child molesters from going to parks, day care centres and other places frequented by children. Although the new laws are steps in the right direction, laws do not change attitudes and behaviours. There is still a lot of work to be done to reduce the over-all incidence of sexual violence, to erase beliefs that some women "ask for it", to give rape victims fair legal recourse and to punish offenders. Page 22 the psychological impact of sexual assault If you have been sexually assaulted, you have been abused in a violent manner. Your life may have been threatened. Your innermost psychological and physical privacy have been invaded. It is an experience which necessarily upsets your psychic balance and you may find even the simplest routines difficult to deal with for a while. Scars left from such an event may take days, months, even years to heal. All victims of sexual assault do not experience the same post-rape trauma, nor is this trauma expressed in the same way. The impact of such an experience varies. Since women show their pain and fear in different ways, assault victims require different kinds and amounts of support and care. However, we can speak about a process which many women go through when they react and begin to deal with what has happened to them. Findings of research on post-rape reactions are applicable not just to an assault experience, but to any traumatic crisis in a person's life. There are basically three phases in people's reactions to an assault: the impact of the experience; readjusting to everyday life; and integration of the event into your life experience. We describe feelings which you may have during these phases and behaviours you might exhibit. We also discuss the importance of support during each phase, including the effects of negative and positive help, as well as some practical ways of giving useful support. These descriptions should help you under- stand what you are feeling and provide others with a better idea of what you need. As a victim of sexual assault, your life and relation- ships are affected by the trauma you have experienced. One of your goals is to emerge as a survivor someone who has integrated a traumatic experience and goes on to enjoy her life and independence. The impact The first phase of assault trauma is by far the most intense and crucial time. An atmosphere is created during the first few moments or days after the assault. Your initial feelings and those you see expressed by others can determine whether your crisis is temporary or long term. Feelings: First feelings after a rape can vary greatly. Below are some of these feelings as described by several women who had them: Feeling dirty: "I couldn't get rid of the feeling that I was filthy on the outside and the inside of my body. I wanted that sense back that I used to get when I got out of the shower:feeling fresh and clean." Shock and disbelief: "I felt numb all over. The whole world seemed different to me. Nothing was quite real. I kept wondering over and over again: 'How could this happen to me; how could this happen to me'?" Anger: "I was enraged. I was so mad. How could he have treated me that way, done that to me? And I was angry that I had to take it; that I was so scared that I had to just take it from him." Fear: "The terror was really overpowering. I have never felt anything like it. I was scared that it would happen all over again. I was scared that I might have been kilted... I was scared of everything. I just had a scared feeling the whole time." Guilt and self-blame: "I kept going over the whole thing again and again. Looking at every detail of what I did. I was convinced it was my fault. ..that if I had not gone to the party, had not had a few drinks, had nottalked to him, it would not have happened. ...It took me a long time to see that I didn't do anything wrong." Elation: "I felt very happy and relieved to be alive. Everything around me took on a whole new glow and freshness. I couldn't believe I got out of there. But I thought something must be wrong with me to feel this way after just having been assaulted." Frequently all these feelings occur, and you and your friends may become very confused as you jump from one emotion to another. Behaviour: For a while, you may become a very different person since the feelings you are having are unusual, very intense and quite painful. You may walk around in a daze, your movements very mechanical and automatic. You may be totally unaware of what is going on around you — always seeming to be "off somewhere", dreaming. Or you could appear very cool and calm when approached with questions or decisions, preferring to keep these feelings to yourself. You might lapse into periods of sobbing, then become calm, only to start crying again. You might cry for days, feeling totally out of control and unable to handle the range of emotions you are feeling. You may want to escape from the world completely for a time. You might refuse to go to work, refuse to see anyone; you might want to hide and may even go to bed for a week or more. Or you may not want to be left alone at all after the assault. The fear that you experienced does not go away when the assailant leaves. You may be afraid to go outside alone (and even with others); you may worry about being with too many people, wondering if they are all discussing what has happened to you. All these behaviours and feelings are normal expressions of emotions during the "impact" phase.lt is important that you are supported and cared for during this time, so that you feel secure and the turmoil can subside. Support: The quality and extent of the support you are given during this time is very important. Insensitive and accusatory attitudes may further increase (and sometimes create) feelings of guilt and self-blame. If you are regarded as having created a crisis for others (your parents, boyfriend, husband), you may retreat, understandably, into yourself and internalize the negative feelings others have toward you. Support which encourages you to recognize your reactions as normal, your behaviour as understandable and your questions as necessary will enable you to regain self-confidence very shortly after the assault. Page 23 Feeling an atmosphere of warm caring and confidence around you can help this happen. Try to talk about the assault. Getting your thoughts and feelings into words can put them in perspective and diminish the nightmare quality they have when they are locked in your own head. If you are supporting someone who has been assaulted, listen to what she is saying. Encourage her to express her feelings — guilt, anger, disbelief, etc. None of her feelings should be regarded as useless, silly or inappropriate. They are all part of the healing process. Often family and friends do not want to talk about the rape, believing it is better to forget about it. The woman, however, cannot forget it and may interpret your avoidance of the subject as embar- rassment or blame. If speaking about the assault is too difficult for those close to the victim, encourage her to contact a rape crisis centre or a counsellor who can help everyone deal with the assault in an open, constructive way. Remember that practical support is also needed by someone who is sorting out an assault experience. Helping her with decisions that must be made about pressing charges and going with her to the doctor, the police and lawyers will help her feel less alone and isolated. If she cannot handle going to work, find someone who can cover for her. Arrange child care, if necessary. Answer the telephone and doorbell when she is not feeling up to conversation and visitors. Readjusting Slowly you will approach the point where you want to handle the practical problems and situations in your life again. Feelings: This phase is marked by feeling that you are ready to resume your daily routines. Now you want to take the assault out of the limelight and concentrate on other aspects of your life which were temporarily ignored or pushed aside. You probably feel some relief because you are less obsessed by the assault and, therefore, may deny that you are troubled by it at all. Though you may still experience nightmares or be startled when someone enters the room, generally this is a time of less intense and fewer painful feelings. Behaviour: The important factor during this time is movement. Whether you decide to reassemble your old life or make some big changes (a new place to live, a new job, etc.), you are trying to construct a lifestyle where you can feel comfortable once again. Energy which had been focused on feelings or talking or even on repressing the assault, now goes into activities, taking care of yourself. Although there may still be some dependence on people closest to you, you will probably talk a lot less about the event and how you are feeling. Support: It is important for people who are sup- porting you to respect your progress but not to deny your experience. Though external movement and activities are necessary, internal (emotional) resolution is also important. The activity of reconstructing your life can give you a new perspective on your feelings about the assault and your actions during it. Try to reflect on the assault from time to time, if only to appreciate how much you have changed. As a support person, you might have to remind the woman about her medical follow-up for STD's. If she temporarily moved ih with you after the assault and has now gone back home, invite heroverfordinneror even for the night. There should be a gradual weaning of the intense support, with a clear message that she can still depend on you when she needs to. During this time, many husbands and boyfriends find it difficult to support the woman. She may still recoil from sexual involvement even though she seems to be over the trauma. She may even initiate sexual activity, only to stop in the middle. Be gentle, understanding and supportive of her gradual approach. Pressure to have sex can easily recreate the atmosphere of the assault and make getting back into the relation- ship longer and more difficult for her. Integration Now that you can deal with your daily activities, you may want to again reflect on the assault in order to understand any questions or feelings which are still unresolved. Feelings: During this time, you will try to reconcile your thoughts and feelings about the assault. Feelings of frustration, anger and guilt may reappear as you attempt to resolve whether you had any responsibility for the crime. For the first time, you may feel anger at the rapist and at those who have dealt with you in an insensitive way. This is a period of personal intro- spection and you may feel cut off from others, especially from those whose support is ambiguous. You may become very discouraged if you perceive that, despite all your efforts to reconstruct your life, you are still plagued by nightmares, fears of being alone at night, feelings of paranoia and an inability to enjoy sex. This time often coincides with the trial if you are pressing charges, and a reliving of the feelings right after the assault. Though you have come a long way, you may feel discouraged and that all your changes were only temporary cover-ups. Behaviour: You may want some time alone to reflect upon, rather than to escape from, reality. During this process, you may seek out someone to Page 24 talk to — someone to help you resolve questions and feelings you still do not understand. You may act out your angry feelings about the rapist on those close to you. You may revise earlier decisions when you were trying to feel secure (living at home, forexample). You may now try to establish a lifestyle which can reflect your attempt to be a free, independent person once again. Support: This is the time to remember that the impact of a sexual assault is deep and takes time to resolve. You should be gently reminded of the severity of the experience when you feel you are falling short of your expectations to recover. If you are supporting an assault victim, remember that any anger toward the rapist which might be directed at you should not be taken personally. Although she may need to spend time alone, don't forget that she still needs active support. Attitudes of police and lawyers during the trial might be very critical of her behaviour and motivations. She should be reminded that these are attitudes in our society towards women, not towards her personally. This can bea long and difficulttimeand the woman may want some counselling. Though she can be encouraged to seek this help, it should not be an excuse for those close to her to discontinue their help. Good therapists are hard to find. Friends and family should not be afraid to interfere if she is not responding to the counsellor she has chosen. Help her to look critically at the ideas and values of the therapist she is seeing, and suggest that she change counsellors if necessary. Consider these phases as a process which many sexually assaulted women go through. They are not a checklist for acceptable or unacceptable behaviour. Each woman is an individual and responds in herown unique way. As with all processes, some people stop along the way and progress no further. If you are still having difficulty with the assault many years later, it might be helpful to look at the kind of support, or non-support, you received at the time. You may doubt your own ability to deal with such a crisis, forgetting the difficulty of your task. You must reintegrate into an environment where rape is a common occurrence. You must learn how to live with the experience, knowing that it could happen again. Having had a painful lesson about women's position in society, you will probably not return to your pre- assault state of mind. Once you have accepted what has happened to you and grown wiser as a result, you will find that you are no longer a "victim" of sexual assault. As one of many "survivors", you will help create a new image: women can indeed fight back. Page 25 part II sexual assault in society "The fear of sexual assault is a special fear; its intensity in women can best be likened to the male fear of castration. " Germaine Greer All women, at various points in their lives, experience fear of sexual assault: a fear that sharpens a woman's wits when she is out late and unaccompanied; a fear that maintains the traditional female role by inhibiting behaviour that carries risk of sexual assault; and a fear of bodily harm and humiliation. The social reper- cussions of sexual assault are also feared: dishonour, low status, ostracism, ridicule, suspicion. Unlikeother crimes of violence, victims of sexual assault are suspect for their role in the assault. Still today, most people seem to believe that the primary responsibility for sexual assault lies with the woman, that it is up to her to avoid the assault. Such beliefs are deeply rooted in historical definitions of the nature of women and in those conditions of history which made women the property of men. Though times have changed, old ways die hard. These conditions continue to exert a strong influence over our behaviour, over our minds, and they are evident in the popular beliefs about victims and perpetrators of sexual assault. As with most popular beliefs, those about rape are rarely challenged in any systematic or popular way. Accepted as general truths, they are internalized by both men and women. They can exert a strong influence over the behaviour of people involved — the victim, the rapist and the various institutions that deal with sexual assault. The most common beliefs are: About victims of sexual assault: 1 . It is not really possible to rape a non-consenting woman. 2. Women ask to be raped (and probably enjoy it). 3. Only "loose" women get raped; nice girls don't get raped. 4. Women commonly report rape that has not occurred. About the rapists: 1. The man who rapes is mentally or emotionally disturbed. 2. Men who rape choose victims they don't know. 3. Men rape because they have uncontrollable sex urges. There are two major differences between beliefs about rape victims and those about the perpetrators of sexual assault. The popular beliefs about victims contain ideas about the nature of women and so they easily extend to all women. This is not true of the popular beliefs about rapists which are so narrow that most men would not identify with their motives or methods. The second difference between the popular beliefs about victims and rapists concerns the responsibility for rape. In all four beliefs about rape victims, the woman's behaviour is seen as at least partly responsible for the assault. Much of the trauma experienced by rape victims comes from self-doubt and guilt engen- dered by these beliefs: Could I have prevented it? Did I look like I was asking for it? The rapist, according to these popular beliefs, acts as a result of some larger force out of his control — his impulsive sexuality, his mental and emotional dis- turbance. Rapists often blame the woman: she wanted it; she got me excited; she didn't really mean "no". People are not always conscious that they hold these beliefs. But they can be identified in the reactions of rape victims, rapists, police, doctors, courts of law and victims' family and friends. Contradictory popular beliefs can and do exist along side one another. For example, one can believe that women cannot be raped if they don't want to be. At the same time, one can believe that rape is an inevitable feature of our society. One belief negates the existence of sexual assault, while the other views it as inevitable. Despite their contradictory nature, these popular beliefs influence both individual and institu- tional responses to rape in our society. Page 26 popular beliefs about rape victims Four popular beliefs about the victims of sexual assault recur consistently in individual and institutional responses to rape in our society. Underlying these popular beliefs about the rape victim are questionable assumptions about the nature of women. Women and girls are almost exclusively the victims of sexual assault. And once a victim, regardless of the form of assault, the woman must prove these beliefs wrong. Although her virtue will not be questioned if she dies in the assault, she will most likely survive the attack and will confront some form of these beliefs. Shewillfindhermotivesandbehaviourquestionedin the reactions of her family and friends, in her own mind, in the medical treatment she receives, in the attitudes of the police, and, if she pursues the case, in the courts of law. We examine the implications and validity of each belief and conclude with a look at the origin of these beliefs and the agents which serve to perpetuate them. 1 . It is not really possible to rape a non-consenting woman. This belief implies that there is no such thing as sexual assault; a woman must consent in order for sexual intercourse to take place. To accept this belief is to deal with rape in bad faith; it absolves men from the responsibility of forced sexual intercourse on the grounds that the woman who truly wants to can do something to prevent it. It suggests that women must be severely beaten in order to prove resistance. We were surprised in our talks with adolescents to find that an old and false counterpart to this belief is still quite common: a woman can somehow lock her legs so as to avoid being penetrated. Though this belief was more common to boys, a substantial portion of the girls thought they might be able to do this if faced with a sexual assault. Police protocol during a report of sexual assault is partially conditioned by this belief. While police must sort out false claims from true ones, the fervor with which this is frequently done actually prevents women from reporting the assault. Unlike other crimes of violence, sexual assault has a disproportionate number of cases with dropped charges. The proportion of suspects actually brought to trial once charges are laid is lower for rape than any other crime against a person. In legal circles, this popular belief is known as the "moving target theory" (you can't thread a moving needle) and has been used successfully in defences against rape charges. In one court case, the defence lawyer, holding a coke bottle, challenged the prose- cuting attorney to stick his pencil in the bottle. The defence lawyer ran around the court room with the bottle, making it impossible for the prosecuting lawyer to insert the pencil. The crude analogy between the coke bottle and the vagina, the pencil and the penis, was supposed to prove that the woman could not be penetrated if she truly did not want to be. Perhaps the most devastating effects of this popular belief are felt by rape victims themselves. Even a small degree of acceptance of this belief means that the victim could be consumed with self-doubt, guilt and, to some extent, self-hatred. Such emotions make recovery from rape all the more difficult. These feelings are reinforced by social attitudes and laws which require "evidence of struggle" — some tangible proof that the woman tried to escape but was physically overpowered or injured during her efforts to leave. We have spoken with a large number of rape survivors who, even years after the assault, are plagued by self- doubt and guilt over not having been able to prevent the rape. This is not the case for victims of most other crimes of violence. Is this popular belief valid? It is indeed possible to rape a non-consenting woman. The first and most obvious reason for this possibility is the anatomy of males and females. An erect penis is capable of penetrating any female orifice, particularly when the female is held down. This is a biological fact. That the penis can be used Page 27 this way is rooted in anatomy; that it is used for forced intercourse is rooted in culture (see page 39). A second reason for the invalidity of this belief lies in the socialization process. Most men receive physical training in strength and quickness and psychological training in assertiveness. It is difficult for a woman to prevent a sexual assault when she is physically less trained in strength and quickness, psychologically trained to be passive, gentle and nurturing, and socially trained to please others. When carried to the extreme, socialized feminine and masculine roles make rape an act of conformity rather than one of deviance. Furthermore, evidence indicates that often victims face much more than just the possibility of unwanted sex. The Canadian Advisory Council estimates that 62% of victims are physically injured in the attack and 9% of those are severely beaten. Many rapists use weapons and threaten the victim with violence or death . Few people are trained to handle these situations and self-defence techniques specifically designed for women are not yet available on a widespread basis (see page 9). Anywhere from 30-50% of reported sexual assaults are "gang rapes" — two or more assailants against a single woman. When there are 3 or more assailants involved, there is a 90% chance that the rape is planned in advance. Women can learn specific tech- niques to deal with multiple attackers, but this is a difficult situation to avert for a man or a woman. Though statistics on the proportion of 'date' rapes are not available because these events go largely unreported, the majority of women we spoke to experienced rape of this kind. In these rapes some degree of physical force may be used, but social- psychological coercion predominates. The most common scenario for this type of rape involves a couple on a date or at a party. Usually there is some sexual play towards the end of the evening, verbal resistance from the woman, physical and verbal insistence from the male, followed by submission on the part of the woman. The rationale for submission varies. The woman may want to "get it over with"; she may be embarrassed to call for help; she may be the well-socialized woman who feels responsible for the man's sexual arousal and therefore submits to it. In many ways, date rapes are the most difficult to handle. Though the woman may define the scene as sexual assault, the man may see her final submission as evidence that she just wanted to be coaxed, perhaps even overpowered. He will likely not see his own behaviour as sexual assault but as successful seduction. In one study, college males who admitted to coercing a female into sexual intercourse justified their actions in these ways: the woman changed her mind too late in the act; he was drunk and sexually aroused so lost his sense of judgement; he did not believe that the woman's resistance was genuine. We know of one such incident in which the partic- ipants emerged with completely different per- ceptions of what had transpired. During a party, the woman wandered into a bedroom where her date later found her asleep. He did not heed her protests to his sexual advances. Eventually, unable to overpower him, she submitted to sexual intercourse. For her, sexual submission was preferable to drawing attention of the partying group to her difficult position. This would have meant loss of face, embarrassment, pos- sibly even ridicule. She chose to submit to what she perceived as forced sexual intercourse and afterwards left the party, refusing to see him again. She defined the scenario as rape. In his mind, the conquest was just part of the fun. Women are more likely to use verbal resistance as their sole defence against unwanted intercourse when the man is a friend or acquaintance. When verbal resistance is not successful, yelling for help or using effective physical resistance is more difficult with someone the woman knows. Submission to coercive sexual intercourse is frequently seen as the easy way out. The fact that men may have a different perception in these instances renders the situation all the more complex and all the more likely to be repeated. Approximately 50% of all reported rapes are between people who know each other. But the actual percentage of these rapes is much higher because most are not reported and therefore do not show up in statistics. 2. Women ask for it.. .(and probably enjoy it). Underlying this popular belief is a mystique which continues to surround female sexuality. Historically, definitions of female sexuality have fluctuated. Insa- tiable lust was attributed to women by the Roman Catholic patriarchs a few centuries ago. Their proof was that, unlike the male, the female is biologically always receptive. Masochism, made popular by interpretations of Freud, is another trait that has been ascribed to female sexuality. In this view, some women enjoy being brutalized and endangering their lives. Passivity, Page 28 a cultural trait, is seen as a wish to be overpowered. These alleged sexuality traits — insatiable lust, masochism, the wish to be overpowered — are themes which appear repeatedly in male-produced porno- graphy. A crippling effect of this popular belief is the requirement that women severely curb their behaviour so as not to ask for sexual assault. Furthermore, the rapist, not the woman, ultimately decides what be- haviour constitutes asking for sexual assault. A woman walking alone at night or waiting at a bus stop is often defined as "asking for it". Police procedures in rape cases are strongly in- fluenced by this popular belief. When a woman is sexually assaulted while hitchhiking, while not wearing under clothing, while on a date (to give but a few examples of behaviours which might be defined as "asking for it"), the police might discourage legal pursuit of the offender. Even when the police are sympathetic to a woman's case, they know that her perception of the assault will not predominate in a court of law. The message is clear and one that we all understand. The onus is on women to avoid behaviour that men can interpret as a sexual invitation or to suffer the consequences. The legal defence of the offender usually relies heavily on this popular belief. A rape victim who presses charges which result in a trial will be faced with some form of accusation that she invited the assault, either through her behaviour or appearance. The defence strategy may take advantage of this popular idea by selecting female jurors, usually of a class and lifestyle different from the rape victim and thus unable to identify with her behaviour. (This is particularly true if the offender is a young man whom a woman juror may identify with a son.) Thisstrategy frequently meets with success; a woman who accepts and lives by the double standard of curbing her behaviour to avoid places or situations of potential sexual assault, usually condemns the rape victim for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, something she would not do. This popular belief functions as an instrument of control over the behaviour of women. Though the cost of greater freedom of movement for women does involve greater risk of sexual assault, women who take these risks are not asking to be sexually assaulted. Nor is the woman who conforms to the traditional code of behaviour for women free of the danger of sexual assault. It is true, however, that a woman who has been sexually assaulted will be plagued with the self-doubt engendered by this beiief ; she will scrutinize her behaviour and appearance for signs of "asking for it". Rape fantasies are sometimes used as proof that women want and enjoy rape. However, a person who is fantasizing is in complete control of the actions of the actors in her fantasy. This is the crucial difference between a rape fantasy and a rape reality. The two should not be confused. o o a 01 Page 29 Is this popular belief valid? Women do not ask to be sexually assaulted. Nor do they enjoy forced intercourse. To believe that they do is to misunderstand the nature of rape. Sexual assault involves brutality — sometimes physical, sometimes psychological, sometimes only threatened, but always present. Neither biological receptivity nor socialized passivity can logically be construed as a desire to be sexually assaulted. In his studies during the late 19th century, Freud found masochistic traits in some of his disturbed female patients. Modern day psychology, greatly influenced by Freud's work, sometimes makes the mistake of applying these characteristics to all women. This popular belief does not account for rape as it actually occurs. Many sexual assaults involve women who are virgins, who are asleep in their homes or who permit entry to a man disguised as a repairman or in need of a telephone. Putting the onus on the woman to avoid rape by restricting her freedom of movement is a social injustice. This was perceptively noted by the late Prime Minister Golda Meir. When her all-male cabinet proposed a curfew on Israeli women to curb an outbreak of rapes, she answered: "But it is the men who are attacking the women. If there is to be a curfew, let the men stay home." 3. Only 'loose' women get raped; nice girls don't get raped. Like the preceding popular beliefs, this one invokes the double standard and curbs the free movement of women. It implies that a woman who conforms to social definitions of "nice girl" behaviour will be free of the danger of sexual assault. This is false. This belief also implies that there is some commonly understood way to define what is "loose" and what is "nice". "Looseness" in our society can encompass a wide range of behaviours and appearances, and changes over the years. It can apply to a woman who wears a low neckline; a woman who has had premarital sex; a woman who hitchhikes; a woman who is on the street at night unaccompanied. Some of these behaviours are expressions of freedom of movement. Some are simply necessary to keep a job. Nurses and waitresses, for example, are frequently out late and unaccompanied. Saleswomen often travel alone. We should question why "loose" women are con- sidered to be deserving of sexual assault. We also need to remember that many of the indicators of "looseness" are not obvious. The definition of "loose" behaviour and appearance is first decided by the rapist, and, later, by the police and the legal system. Furthermore, once a woman has been sexually as- saulted, the definition of her virtue often changes. The rape itself may define her morality as "loose"; she must be thus if she was raped. This misconception is implicit in policequestioning of the rape victim. Though the police are responsible for collecting all relevant details in any crime, their questions attempt to establish whether the victim precipitated the crime through "loose" behaviour or appearance. In a robbery, no one suspects the victim of precipitating the crime by having money in his or her possession. We know of a case in which the survivor of a sexual assault, a former drug addict, left the scene of the rape and went directly to a nearby police station. She was sure that prompt action would lead to the arrest of the rapist. She was cut and bruised and had a clear description of the rapist and of his car. The police began filing the report but stopped when they noticed tracesof her former addiction — tracks on herarms. It was useless to pursue the case, they suggested sympathetically. She would have no credibility in court. Herformer addiction defined heras "loose" and therefore deserving of assault. Legal defence of rapists relies heavily on this popular belief. In most American states, the sexual history of the rape victim is automatically considered relevant evidence in a rape trial. If the defence lawyer discovers that the woman has had premarital sex or several lovers, s/he is armed with ammunition that rarely fails. To establish that the rape victim is "loose" is frequently sufficient to secure a "not guilty" verdict for the defendant. Once a woman has consented to sexual intercourse outside of marriage, it is as though she has consented to have sexual intercourse with anyone thereafter. This belief, though not spelled out in the legal code, is applied in legal practice. In Canada, since 1979, the sexual history of the victim is not automatically considered relevant to a case. The defence lawyer must prove that information about the victim's past is crucial to deciding the case at hand. This evidence is presented privately to the judge, who then decides if the victim's sexual history should be presented to the jury. The belief that only "loose" women are raped appears to contradict the belief that it is not really possible to rape a non-consenting adult female. In fact, the two beliefs coincide. Neither acknowledges rape: if a woman is judged to be "loose", she does not have the right, according to sexual mores and most legal practices, to give or refuse consent. Hence assault may not be perceived as such, either by the rapist, the police or the legal institutions. She alone may perceive the event as sexual assault. Is this popular belief valid? This popular belief can be disproved by documenting the proportion of reported sexual assault victims who are virgins, monogamously married women or religious sisters. Sexual assault victims are as young as six months and as old as ninety years. None of these women could realistically be perceived as "loose" and fair game for sexual assault. But this misses the most important point: while virtue, as it has been traditionally defined, is no guarantee from sexual assault, whatever the morality of the woman in question, social justice demands that a woman's consent is necessary for each act of sexual intercourse, whatever her appear- ance, behaviour or sexual history. However, the question of consent is not an easy one. A woman who expresses a desire for sexual intimacy risks being labelled "an easy lay," "loose," "promiscuous," or "immoral". Because men do not face these risks when they express sexual interest, both sexes often expect men to make the first move. Sometimes men are even encouraged to be insistent so that women may avoid being seen as "loose". If we are to challenge the belief that only loose Page 30 women get raped, we must also challenge the social restrictions placed on female sexuality. A woman's right to say "no" must be accompanied by the free right to say "yes" when she so desires. 4. Women commonly report rape that has not occurred. This popular belief implies that women are vindictive and untrustworthy. It encourages great skepticism in rape accusations, as reflected in police treatment and legal procedures. The initial premise, despite the victim's physical condition, is to question if the sexual assault did occur; if the woman enjoyed it; if she precipitated the assault; if she is calling it rape because the man lost interest in her; and other such ulterior motives. The 1 985 Webb-Dobson case in the U.S. has refueled this popular belief. Cathleen Webb, fearing recrimi- nations from her foster parents, claimed she had been raped. Six years after the alleged offender had been sentenced, she admitted her lie. This rare occurrence made the front pages of newspapers across the continent and sparked questions about the number of other "innocent" victims serving time for "false" rape accusations. The intense focus on the rare false report diverts attention away from the large number of real rapes — those which end up in the "unfounded" file at police stations and those that never even get reported to the police. In trials of rape, the defence lawyer, capitalizing on another variation of this popular belief, attempts to establish the rape scenario as one of passion for both parties. He describes a sequence of events, often depicted in movies, to explain what occurred between the man and the woman: passionate resistance by the woman, culmination in erotic surrender and sub- mission. This image, though frequently portrayed in fantasy, does not exist in reality for women. It testifies to the sexual socialization of males in our society, which often links eroticism and conquest. Is this popular belief valid? Crime statistics reveal that rape has the same false accusation rate as other crimes of violence. Two percent (2%) of all accusations are later found to be false. False accusations of rape are not more numerous than those for murder or armed robbery. However, unlike other crimes of violence, rape has from 5 to 1 00 unreported cases for each one that is brought to the police. The overwhelming majority of rape victims do not report the assault, nor do they seek medical attention. Even more rarely, do they seek justice in the courts. The more important question is not why women report rape that has not occurred, but rather why so many rape victims do not report assaults that happen. One reason for the low reporting rate of sexual assault is the frequent uselessness of the report. Unless the woman has been brutally assaulted by the stereotyped psychopathic rapist or can prove that she was a virgin at the time of the assault or is a married Page 31 woman of known respectability, reporting the assault entails continuing an experience she wants to forget. It is frequently a painful exercise in futility. Most women are well aware of this process. Recurring themes in reports from victims of sexual assault, alongside their humiliation over the injustice done to them, are self-doubt and guilt over not having been able to prevent the rape. This is especially common if the assault occurred when the woman was breaking the code of behaviour traditionally prescribed for women or if the assault was perpetrated by someone known to her. Women are no more immune to these popular beliefs than anyone else. A woman's self-doubt about precipitating the assault is another reason for the iack of sexual assault reports. The definition of assault and of behaviour and appearances deemed precipitous are made first by the rapist, then by the police and finally by the lawyers, judge and jury in a rape trial. The police and legal system are assumed to represent all persons in society; yet, in sexual assault cases, neither the woman's intent (wearing tight clothes because tight is trendy), nor her interest is reflected in police protocol, legal procedures or convictions. Fear of public exposure or public humiliation is another deterrent to seeking legal justice in rape cases. A rape victim may be harassed, ostracized, even ridiculed. The gang rape of Cheryl Araujo in New Bedford, Massachusetts and the public outcry against her decision to prosecute provides a tragic example of what pressure a community can exert on a victim. Cheryl was gang raped in a bar on a pool table amid cheering and shouts of encouragement from by- standers. After the trial where four Portuguese im- migrant men were convicted, thousands of Portuguese took to the streets, defending, they said, the honour of the Portuguese community. Cheryl Araujo, also of Portuguese descent, was forced to flee the community, amid death threats not from strangers but from people she knew. Despite a courageous effort to rebuild her life in Florida, friends said she always wanted to go home. She took her own life in a car crash two years later, December 14, 1986. Her lawyer summed up the feelings many women had when the trial was getting wide press coverage: "She had guts. She had courage. Not one in a million would have gone through that trial". Given all these obstacles, it should not be surprising that rape has the lowest conviction rate of all crimes of violence. The low conviction rate points to another problem: the suitability of the punishment to the crime. In most countries, a rape conviction carries a possible life sentence which serves as a strong de- terrent for most juries to find the defendant guilty. One must remember that a rape trial is a carefully orchestrated scenario, in which the defence lawyer grooms the defendant to look like the all-Canadian or all-American man. This image does not correspond with the popular belief that a true rapist is a 'psycho! At the same time, an image of the rape victim as 'loose' is created by the defence. Juries often prefer to forgive what is portrayed as the indiscretion of the male, rather than to invoke such a serious sentence as life in prison. Page 32 popular beliefs about rapists There is a striking difference between popular beliefs about rape victims and those about rapists. Beliefs about the rape victim carry implicit definitions of the nature of women and potentially apply to all women. Popular beliefs about rapists serve the opposite function. They define the motives and methods of rapists in a way that discourages men from identifying their own sexually aggressive behaviour. Another important difference between the two sets of popular beliefs lies in the degree of responsibility assigned to men and women for the assault. Beliefs about the victim either deny her experience as rape or assign the responsibility to her for causing the assault. Popular beliefs about the rapist absolve him because he is mentally deranged or sexually out of control and, therefore, not responsible for his actions. All of these beliefs discourage and may even prevent most men from critically examining their own sexually aggressive behaviour. 1. The man who rapes is emotionally disturbed. This popular belief severely narrows the definition of who assaults and what is considered a sexual assault. Assaults by "sex maniacs" constitute a very small proportion of all actual rapes. Nevertheless, people tend to think of the "real" rapist as the psychopathic male. In this line of thinking, the only legitimate victim is one who has been raped by the psycho! All other varieties of sexual assault are perceived as mere consequences of provocative behaviour on the part of women. This belief absolves most men from considering aggressive sexual behaviour as sexual assault. If rapists are all psychopaths, then any mentally sane man who forces a woman to have intercourse can rationalize his behaviour with such lines as: "She really wanted it;" "She provoked me;" "If she didn't want it, it wouldn't have happened." Is this popular belief valid? If most sexual assaults are not perpetrated by mentally deranged men, then who are the perpetrators? Records of sexual offenders show that they are normal men with perhaps an above average tendency to express hostility or aggression. Amir's study of 1,292 sex offenders in Philadelphia found very few men who had been medically diagnosed as mentally or emotionally disturbed. Less than 1% of rapists studied are classified as psycho-rapists. According to one large-scale study, 87% of convicted rapists had already been convicted of some crime by the age of twenty-six. About half of these previous crimes were sex offences. Although this information comes only from men who have been convicted, it is disturbing to learn their problems were apparent but ignored during adolescence. Other data about men who sexually assault comes from a variety of sources. Information has been col- lected from men who were never officially caught, but later identified and interviewed by health professionals and other researchers. Rape crisis centres and other self-help groups have reports by victims with infor- mation volunteered by the rapist during the assault. In addition, data has been collected in studies, surveys and interviews of large numbers of men who, though not identified as rapists, admit to having used sexual coercion in their relationships with women. The information acquired is disturbing. In one study at Kent State University, 4% of the men inter- viewed said they used violence to obtain sex. Another 27% admitted to using lesser degrees of physical and Page 33 emotional force when a woman was not willing to have sex. In other surveys carried out across North America (usually in campus settings, including a 1981 survey at the University of Manitoba) two-thirds of the men questioned admitted they would force a woman to have sex against her will and even commit rape, if they were sure they would not be caught or punished. Recent studies also show that the number of women who experience some form of sexual aggression in their lifetime is very high. A 1980 study at the University of West Virginia found 38% of the women surveyed had been victims of forced sexual activity. A random door-to-door survey in Winnipeg found 27% of the women had been victims of sexual assault. In 1972, the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration and the U.S. Census Bureau found equally high rates of sexual aggression when they polled 250,000 people in 26 cities across the U.S. Obviously, the perpetrators of these acts of aggression are not all psychopaths or there would be a real epidemic of mental illness among the male population of North America! Sexual aggression is a much too common feature of our culture to be dismissed as an illness. This is why it is important to look at aspects of our society which promote and excuse sexually aggressive behaviour (see page 40). 2. Men who rape choose victims they don't know. This popular belief, as the first one, limits the definition of what constitutes a genuine sexual assault. Under this premise, only assaults perpetrated by strangers qualify as legitimate. This belief implies that sexual aggression which occurs on a date, within a marriage or by a member of the victim's family is not real rape. Given that the vast majority of sexual assaults occur between people who know each other, this belief fosters suspicion about the legitimacy of most complaints. The belief that rapists only pick strangers encourages men not to look at whatever aggressive behaviour they might exhibit with women they know. They can rationalize their behaviour as the normal dynamic that occurs between men and women — sometimes women go along with their sexual advances, sometimes they must be forced into it. This misconception causes problems for women as well. They may avoid situations where encounters with strangers are possible and be unprepared to handle an incident where sexual aggression comes from someone they know. Women who accept this belief about rapists may become suspicious of men purely because they are strangers and therefore, lose opportunities to get to know men who are not threat- ening to them. This popular belief is also reflected in advice which parents passontotheirchildren. Children are cautioned not to take candy from strangers or to get into cars driven by strangers. Although this advice is well- meaning and worth following, the vast majority (50- 75%) of the sexual aggression perpetrated on young girls and boys is by someone known to them — their fathers, step-fathers, foster fathers, male relatives or close friends of the family. To avoid speaking about this possibility is to leave children unprepared to handle those situations most likely to occur. To accept the belief that rapists look for victims who are unknown to them focuses concern on only a small portion of the assaults. It does not prepare women or children to effectively resist assaults by men they trust and from whom they may expect protection. Is this popular belief valid? Rape crisis centres and other social support systems for rape victims and their families have made it possible to get a broader picture of assault situations. A study of cases at an Ontario rape crisis centre reveals that 27% of the rapists were complete strangers to the victim; 23% were slightly known; 12% were dates, neighbours or co-workers; 23% were close friends, family members or friends of the family. The Canadian Advisory Council on the Status of Women reports that one third of assaults are by strangers. Of the women surveyed, one in six said she was assaulted by a man she thought was a friend. Talks with police in other cities in Canada have put the figure as high as 80%. These figures conf irrrrthat stranger rapes are only a small part of the larger picture. However, a large portion of cases that find their way to the police records are assaults by strangers. Survivors of these assaults are more inclined to take their complaint to the authorities, who are more likely to judge the complaint as legitimate. The minority of convicted rapists keep this popular belief alive in the minds of the public. For example, in a recent Canadian film, "This film is about rape", men stated that their victims were picked because they happened to be in the vicinity. Since only about 10% of assaults are reported to the police and since only a fraction of these result in conviction, it is misleading to assume that this is the dynamic for the majority of rapes. 3. Men rape because they have uncontrollable sex urges. This popular belief portrays rape as a purely sexual act — an expression of frustrated sexual needs. It implies that the rapist is a victim of his own sex drive, a situation for which the woman often pays the conse- quences. This belief completely ignores the fact that rape is first and foremost an act of hostility against women. Like the belief that rapists are psychopaths, it relieves the man of any responsibility for his actions. In this belief, the fault lies in the very nature of male sexuality. This view, held by many, is often reinforced by our institutions. Judge Humphreys, in a case heard in the U.S., provides an unfortunate example of this reasoning. After issuing a six month suspended sen- tence to a young man convicted of raping two women, thejudgejustified the light sentence with the following statement: "You are at a difficult age and you were overcome by your own sexual desire." Humphreys suggests that the way this man expressed his sexuality is understandable, if not acceptable in point of law. Even though the verdict of guilty was rendered, there is an implied acknowledgement that men are often held captive by their own sexual needs. Page 34 Acceptance of the popular belief that the male sex drive requires immediate and frequent gratification has serious implications for women: the female becomes little more than a passive recipient of the male sex drive. Women are put into the untenable position of being the caretakers of male sexuality. This belief gives women only two choices: satisfy the sexual needs of men or be prepared to handle the sexual aggression which will result from male frustration. Another implication which emerges from this popular belief is that women are somehow responsible for triggering this sex drive. Since the man in the myth has no control over his sexual feelings, the woman must exercise caution in her behaviour. Accepting preliminary sexual exchanges (such as flirting, kissing or touching) might lead the man to feel intense desire for sexual intercourse which could cause him to assault her to satisfy these desires. A study of male college students illustrates how men often blame women for their own actions. All the men admitted that they forced a woman to have intercourse against her will on at least one occasion. They justified their own behaviour by stating that, although rape had occurred in the legal sense, the woman was at fault because of her sexual conduct. To them, the woman's participation in sexual foreplay meant she was interested in sexual intercourse. Her resistance to the actual act was not seriously consid- ered, given the intimacy already achieved and the level of arousal experienced by the male. Both men and women must understand that sexual expression is controllable in both sexes and any person has a right to refuse unwanted advances at any point in a sexual exchange. Is this popular belief valid? The idea that the male sex drive is intrinsically intense and uncontrollable justifies sexually aggressive behaviour in men. While most men do not see them- selves as rapists, they often see women as the cause of their sexual frustration. Use of threats and force to maintain control over when and how sex occurs is a strong statement to women that they are to serve, not to complicate matters by having demands of their own. Numerous studies both in the U.S. and Canada reveal that most men who rape lead normal sexual lives. Many have regular partners or relationships which have an on-going and active sexual component. Evidence shows that though these men may not be sexually deprived, they do exhibit an above average degree of hostility and aggression. Battelle Memorial Institute's Law and Justice Study Center did a major study of rapes in five large cities for the U.S. Department of Justice. They found that the sexual acts to which women were subjected illustrated a strong hostility to women, rather than an intense expression of passion: shoving objects into the vagina, forcing the woman to perform fellatio with such force that she thinks she might suffocate, biting and burning various parts of the body. That the rapist is driven to act impulsively when the level of sexual frustration becomes intolerable has also been disproved. Amir's U.S. study of over 1200 rape cases found 80% of rapes are planned in advance and are not merely a result of being carried away by sexual excitement. A resource manual from British Columbia reports that 58% of assaults by single assailants are premeditated, as are 83% of two assailant assaults and 90% of those committed by three or more assailants. These findings about how sexual assault actually occurs and the kinds of acts women are subjected to prove that rape is not a result of uncontrollable sex urges. The roots of sexual aggression lie in the roles men and women are taught in our society, not in any one person's sexual feelings or frustrations. Any man who forces his sexual attentions on any woman against her will is a rapist and should be identified as such. Page 35 the origins of popular beliefs about rape Popular beliefs about rape, its victims and its perpetrators continue to exist even though they are not true. They have a powerful effect on the way we deal with sexual assault as a social problem. Where do these beliefs come from? What conditions in our history give rise to these beliefs? How are these beliefs maintained and reinforced in society today? Patriarchal ideology Popular beliefs about rape victims and rapists are modern day versions of thought and practice that originate in early forms of patriarchy. Patriarchy is a form of social organization marked by the supremacy of the male at the head of the family. This male authority structure includes the legal or socially recognized dependence of wives and children, and usually the reckoning of descent and inheritance through the male line. Social organization around principles of patriarchy is ancient, pervasive and often assumed to be natural law. Patriarchal ideology refers to people's way of thinking in this form of social organization. It integrates the assertions, theories and aims of patriarchy and promotes a certain body of concepts about human life and culture. In its deepest sense, patriarchal ideology is a world view where reality is based on male authority and dominance as a law of nature. A contemporary example of patriarchal thought and practice is the law that does not recognize rape within marriage (as is the case in most states in the U.S.). Putting the difficulty of proof aside, it means that a husband has the legal right to forced sexual intercourse with his wife at any time he chooses. She cannot bring a rape charge against him because, in legal terms, rape within marriage does not exist. When a woman is accused of precipitating a sexual assault ("asking for it"), what counts is how others define her behaviour, not how she sees it. This is another example of what we mean by patriarchal ideology. Freud's work, frequently interpreted as a prescription for the superiority of the male, a superiority vested in the penis, is a rich description of European patriarchal society at the turn of the century. It also describes the effects of patriarchal social organization on sexuality and the subconscious. Popular beliefs about rape victims imply certain assumptions about the nature of women. For many centuries, religious patriarchs were uncontested authorities in defining the nature of women. Though not the sole authorities, the popular beliefs we hold about rape victims and rapists are very much rooted in this religious tradition. Archetypal images of women: The perception of women held by the religious patriarchs centered around two archetypal images: virgin and whore. The virgin archetype is an ideal image. She is chaste, virginal, self-effacing and otherworldly. Should someone attempt to sexually assault her, she would resist with all her will and strength, even if it meant her own death. The Vatican has acknowledged two women who are examples of the virgin martyr. One is St. Agnes who lived during the 3rd century and died protecting her honour against the attempts of her assailant. The most recent example is Maria Goretti who died in 1902 at the age of 13, at the hands of a local farmer who tried to sexually assault her. An exalted example of the virgin martyr whose name is associated with miracles, she was beatified by Pope Pius XII in 1950. These ideal images suggest that the virtuous woman chooses death over assault — an unkind and cruel message to women. The second archetype of woman, the whore, refers to the Eve image. She represents an object of temp- tation for men. Some religious literature suggests that this is the reason woman was placed on this earth — to tempt and test the virtue of men. The woman who survives a sexual assault and who does not take her own life following the assault is likely to find herself aligned with this archetype. The following is a de- scription of the nature of this woman taken from the writing of a 14th century Dominican: "If a woman wantonly adorned to capture sould, the garland upon her head is as a single code of fire- brand of Hell is to kindle men with that fire; so too the horns of another, so the bare neck, so the brooch upon the breast, so with all the curious finery of the whole of their body. What else does it seem or could be said of it save that each is a spark breathing out Hell-fire, which this wretched incen- diary of the Devil breaths so effectually. ..that, in a single day by her dancing or her perambulation through the town, she inflames with the fire of lust — it may be — twenty of those who behold her, damning the sould who God has created and redeemed at such a cost for their salvation. For this very purpose the Devil thus adorns these females, sending them forth through the town as his apostles, replete with every iniquity, malice fornication." Page 36 The roots of the first three popular beliefs about rape victims are in these patriarchal archetypes of woman. The virgin-saint and evil-temptress archetypes coincide with the 'nice girl' and 'loose woman' dichotomy. The 'loose woman' temptress is regarded as immoral and sexual. People often conclude that such women ask to be raped. The possibility of a non-consenting adult female evaporates in the very definition of woman, since consent is part and parcel of her lustful nature. Early forms of Roman Catholicism which defined women as lustful and malicious creatures often did not hold a man responsible for rape. Men who had forced sexual intercourse with these objects of temp- tation were morally condemned. They were seen as weak-willed persons, possibly in the clutches of the devil. They were not legally pursued, but had to make their peace with God and their priest. Only in cases where the woman was a virgin from the upper classes would an assault be legally defined as rape. Popular beliefs about rapists reflect this age-old thought. Today, we use psychological, rather than moral grounds to absolve the rapist of responsibility for his actions. The view that he is emotionally disturbed, that his sex drive is out of control or that the woman's provocative behaviour caused the assault are contemporary beliefs rooted in the past. The patriarchs of the Old Testament were also concerned with the question of consent in rape. In their view, rape could only occur under certain circumstances: "If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto a husband and a man find her in the city and lie with her; Then ye shall bring them both unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; But if a man find a betrothed damsel in the field, and the man force her, and lie with her: then the man only that lay with her shall die. " The Old Testament patriarchs limited the definition of rape to betrothed virgins and to rape that took place outside the city walls. It was assumed that, within the city walls, a woman could scream for help and get it. Within this same tradition, we can find the root of the fourth popular belief about rape victims — that women commonly report rape that has not occurred. The story of Potiphar's wife in the Old Testament provides one example. She lusted after Joseph, her husband's employee. When he rejected her advances, she accused him of rape. It is from such stories that the skepticism implied in this popular belief is derived, as are sayings as "Hell hath no fury as a woman scorned". Many examples of religious writings implicitly define the nature of woman along the lines of the archetype virgin, a saint to be revered, and the archetype temptress, an evil to be resisted and condemned. But why have women throughout the centuries put up with such definitions? One important answer lies within material conditions: historically, women have been the property of men. m^\ v* t **■&* ^1^ *i k O Material conditions Page 37 Although historically few men have been free persons (they or their services usually being owned by a privileged few), they could at the same time be propertied: they owned their wives and their offspring. Women were in the peculiar and unique position of being property items. An examination of legal codes in history reveals a picture of women slowly emerging from being regarded as property that could be bought and sold to becoming citizens in their own right. As with other property items, what determined a woman's value was culturally set. One of the most important measures of high property value in women has been chastity — innocence of sexual acts, thoughts and desires not virginal or sanctioned by marriage vows. The importance of chastity, found in many different kinds of patriarchal societies, varies according to the social level of the person concerned. For example, chastity is usually more important to wealthy members of society. Chastity is explained by some people as the fore- runner of the incest taboo; others describe its function as guaranteeing inheritance in the male line. What is relevant here is that historically men have owned women. The value of his property is diminished if she has sexual relations with anyone other than her husband. As property items, women have had little power. They have not been in a position to influence or seriously challenge institutions which define them. Like other property, they could be stolen (and raped) by those who did not own them. In this crucial sense, women can be seen as passive recipients of patriarchal ideology. Though the historical condition of women as prop- erty has radically changed, rape laws based on a property relationship between men and women con- tinue to exist. In the past, and still quite pervasively today, rape, in the legal sense of the word, has only referred to forced sexual intercourse by a man who does not have a socially recognized relationship with the woman in question. (Though fathers have socially recognized relationswiththeirdaughters.theirsexual access is restricted by the incest taboo.) Some countries (Denmark, Sweden, Canada, parts of Australia and the United States) have now altered their laws to include the possibility of rape within marriage. But the husband who sexually assaults his wife is still seen by many as merely exercising his conjugal rights to his property. An historical example of another form of rape in which property plays a key role is the 'rape of reprisal' legally practiced in ancient Babylon. In legal terms, this practice did not involve rape but rather the equalization of the loss of property value of the victim. The father or brother of the victim was permitted to rape a woman of his choice who belonged to the rapist's family, thus balancing property loss. Rape of reprisal is no longer legally sanctioned, but it does continue to occur. Fathers and brothers of rape victims do sometimes seek revenge against the rapist and/or his family. A final example of the importance of property in defining rape is war. The rape of enemy women lays claim to the most valued and intimate property of the enemy. Rape in this context is both a strategy to win and a statement of victory between men. Summary The popular beliefs about rape can be traced to the material condition of women as property items and the patriarchal definitions of women. These two forces interlock in four ways. First, as a property item, the woman was subject to her owner, be it her father or husband. As owner, the male exercised authority over the members of his household. This same authority structure was produced and reinforced by the religious patriarchs. Second, insofar as the property value of a woman was based on her chastity, restrictive prescriptions were imposed on her behaviour. Patriarchal ideology with its rigid definition of the nature of woman, imposed similar restrictions on the behaviour of women. Third, since her sexual behaviour was a measure of her property value, a woman who was sexually active outside of marriage had no value. This corresponds to the evil-temptress in religious teachings. The revered virgin, the opposite image, was not a sexual being. Finally, while the maintenance of property value (chastity) is crucial, it is also problematic. Women, unlike other property items, have the capacity for independent thought and action. This creates two unfortunate possibilities: first, that a woman might not protect her property value as vigorously as she should; and second, that she might 'cry rape', unjustly accusing an innocent man of "theft". Though the condition of women as property make these two problems mere possibilities, the image of woman as beguiling temptress makes the occurrence of these two problems quite probable. In this context we can best understand why the rape victim's sexual history is often seen as important to a rape case and why a legitimate rape case is defined in terms of who the victim is, rather than by the offence itself. Past modes of patriarchal ideology restricted the concept of rape to a select group of women. The material condition of women as property limited rape to persons who did not have a socially recognized property relationship with the rape victim. Both of these factors have limited the legal definition of rape and have contributed to the popular beliefs about rape victims still common today. The belief that the rapist is a mentally disturbed person with an uncon- trollable sex drive is also rooted in this past and also limits our conception of rape. Page 38 socialization Socialization and society Many positive changes have occurred in the status of women and in relations between women and men. But patriarchal ideas about women and material conditions of women as property of men are part of our historical legacy. These ideas continue to exert a strong influence over our minds and our behaviour. This influence begins from the moment we are born and is reinforced throughout our lives by a process called socialization. Socialization teaches us how to behave in society. It is a process through which each individual acquires character traits and learns skills, values and attitudes for present roles and for roles one is expected to assume in the future. We learn these roles gradually from many different socializing agents. Some are obvious: parents, schools, religious organizations. Some are more subtle: films, television, story books, female and male role models that we observe in our environment. Societies which are capitalist and patriarchal define roles, traits and values for their members which support capital and patriarchal interests. In our society, both women and men learn roles and values that support the subordination of women. These sex roles also tend to predispose women and men to coercive sexual relations. Despite some notable exceptions, we can safely generalize that females are socialized to be passive, submissive and nurturing. Females learn that love, approval and acceptance are contingent on exhibiting these character traits. Males are socialized to be aggressive, forceful and dominant. They learn to devalue 'feminine' characteristics in themselves and in others. Approval and success for males come from exhibiting 'masculine' characteristics. In the labour force we can see how these character traits support patriarchal and capital interests. So- cialized 'feminine' characteristics of passivity and submission make it possible to shunt women into job ghettos where work is low paid, menial, repetitive and closely supervised. Though economically useful, these feminine traits are not inherent in women. During World War 1 1, when the economy needed people to fill jobs vacated by soldiering men, women were encouraged to leave the home to fill these jobs. After the war when the men returned, women were pushed out of the skilled, higher paying jobs and back into lower paying service occupations. Day care facilities disappeared and the pop psychology of the day justified the move. The proper sphere for a woman was said to be in the home where her ultimate fulfillment would come from service to husband, children and community. Today, the high cost of living has pushed most married women into the labourforce. But forthe most part the positions they occupy ensure their economic subordination. Employers benefit by paying women less and offering them part time jobs with fewer benefits but higher productivity. The fact that North American women, as a group, earn 65% of what men do also assures their dependence on a husband. If the marriage or relationship dissolves, most women face life on the poverty line. Feminine characteristics — patience, ability to deal with repetitive tasks, passivity — have been cited by employers as reasons to hire women for menial lowpaying jobs. Collective resistance to this and other forms of inequality is made all the more difficult by the double workload women carry in the labour force and in the home. Many modern parents attempt to resist sex role stereotyping in the socialization of their children. Individual efforts should be applauded, but economic and political structures which profit from traditional sex roles present considerable barriers to thei r success. Page 39 Sexual socialization Women and men are socialized to experience sexu- ality differently. This is linked partly to biology and largely to these socialized sex roles. For the female, the sexual socialization process teaches that sex and love and romance are crucially integrated. Females are taught to be 'means oriented' in expressing their sexuality. Women commonly desire sex as a means to a relationship, rather than as a goal in itself. Sexual and sensual expressions such as caressing, cuddling and intimate conversation are often as satisfying for women as the act of penetration . This is reinforced by the fact that to be desired by many men elevates her status as a woman. However, to have sexual experiences with many different men diminishes a woman's social value. In adolescence, girls learn that it is their responsibility to protect themseives from the pressures of male sexuality — from strangers who leer at them to males in their classrooms and work places who might try to take advantage of them. Women learn that their own sexual desires are mild in comparison to men's; therefore, they are responsible for staying level- headed, for controlling their own sexual urges, as well as the sexual urges of the men with whom they associate. When this is difficult to do, women often feel guilty and responsible for the sexual interest that is directed toward them. Many people believe that women should react assertively to avoid being sexually assaulted, but not with men close to them. Sexual socialization teaches the male a different view of sexual needs and gratification. Males are socialized to be 'goal oriented' in their sexual expe- riences. This means that sexual expression and gratifi- cation lie in penetration and ejaculation and need not be accompanied by love and romance. For men, Page 40 sexual gratification frequently involves breaking down the resistance of the female. Seen as a sign of virility and manliness, many such 'conquests' earn a high peer group status for the sexually experienced male. Though boys are taught that 'nice' girls say "no" to sexual advances, they also learn that resistance can be overcome with coaxing and promises of love and commitment. Men are taught to fulfill their sexual needs either by girlfriends, wives or prostitutes. Over all, men learn that to express sexual interest in women is normal and healthy and that they need not feel responsible for the urgency with which they express it. Social norms not only give men permission to feel sexual interest, to seek sexual gratification, but they also hold women responsible for both stimulating and satisfying this sexual interest. These character and sexual traits are frequently defended as biologically determined and socially complementary. Such defences form part of the ideology of patriarchy and ultimately predispose women and men to the rape scenario. Socialization and sexual assault Women who have been successfully socialized to be passive, submissive and 'means oriented' in their sexuality are poorly prepared to handle unwanted sexual advances. Attributes of aggression, dominance and 'goal oriented' sexuality predispose men to exert physical and psychological force to overcome resis- tance to sexual overtures. When carried to the extreme, socialized sex roles make rape an act of conforming, rather than one of exception. In this sense, all women are potential victims of sexual assault and all men are potential rapists. This clash of roles and traits is particularly evident in date rape situations. Many men expect a woman who accepts dinner, flowers and other gifts to recip- rocate with sexual favours. The woman herself may feel responsible forgenerating, controlling or satisfying the sexual interest directed at her during the evening. Behaviour by the woman which shows acceptance and affection may be interpreted by the man to mean the he will be able to go to bed with her later in the evening. If the woman says "no" when the sexual move is made, and the man persists and coerces her, it is common for the man to feel that he has successfully seduced the woman and for her to feel that she has been raped. As the Women's Movement gains support, these roles and character traits are slowly eroding. Already, in the socialization process of young girls, we are beginning to see new patterns emerging. Girls are more often encouraged to be assertive and independent and to recognize their sexual rights. The socialization process of boys, however, has been more resistant to change. While human characteristics traditionally labelled 'masculine' are slightly more accessible to females, we have not seen a widespread movement on the part of males to claim some of those traits traditionally labelled 'feminine'. Such attributes as gentleness, nurturance and sensitivity are worth valuing and developing in all people. They are characteristics which are incongruent with coercive sexuality. Page 41 the functions of sexual assault Popular beliefs about rape affect the social and legal treatment of sexual assault cases. Beliefs contain important messages to men and women about their respective sex roles. In this sense, sexual assault is not just a collection of isolated occurrences, but serves social purposes which go beyond the individuals involved. By examining the role rape plays in different social settings, we can understand the functions rape has in our society. Slavery The rape of slaves was common in the early history of the United States. The white slave-holder used rape in two ways. He commonly claimed sexual access to female slaves who had no right to give or withhold consent. He also paired male and female slaves for breeding purposes without the consent of the men and women involved. In this way, the slave-holder held exclusive rights to both the productive and reproductive lives of the subordinated people. A number of interests are served through these rapes. Rape served the slave-holder's economic in- terests. Arranging the pregnancy of slaves and gen- erating slave babies ensured a steady supply of slaves. Rape also affirmed the dominant position of the slave-holder. It was a concrete and effective expression of power, ownership and control. Rape destroyed family structure, lineage systems and the cohesion of the enslaved people. Through rape, the symbolic impotence of black men was ensured. That the slave-holder developed a deep fear of the black man during this period is not surprising. Having usurped the black man's rights, the white man essent- ially feared retaliation in kind. Mythsabout the sexuality of black people, especially concerning black men's desire for white women, emerged during this period. Expressions of these fears are still apparent today. The specter of the black rapist is real in the minds of many women. Thus, the conviction rate for blacks is higher than for whites. As well, economically dis- advantaged blacks do not have access to good legal counsel. Attributing violent or insatiable sexual drives to the males of another race is one way of continuing racism and has been a theme of bigotry for other non-white races as well. A function of the fear of retaliation from black men is its controlling influence on the behaviour of white women. The fear reinforces her dependence on hus- band, father or brother for protection. This latter point is important to women in general: it demonstrates how the idea that women require protection from dangerous men is created. In this case, white women require protection from black men; in the case of war, from enemy men; in contemporary society, from the psychopathic rapist. War "This is my weapon (slap rifle); this is my gun (slap crotch). " Military chant "To the victor belongs the spoils and the spoils include women. " Susan Brownmiller Regardless of the reasons for waging war-greed, nationalism, religious crusades or liberation — rape has been a common and frequent feature of war. One of the earliest references to rape in war can be found in the Bible, Book of Judges, 19-21: a concubine belonging to a Levite is raped and killed. The tribes of Israel rise to defend the Levite's honour, slaughtering all women and most men in the guilty party's Benja- minite tribe. To restore peace, some one hundred women of a neighbouring tribe are set up to be captured and raped, to become the property of the remaining Benjaminites. In this ancient example, we can see three functions of rape. The rape of the concubine destroys her owner's honour. Rape then serves as a means of retaliation. Third, rape plays a conciliatory role, equalizing losses and restoring peace between the two tribes. A more recent example of rape in warfare strategy is provided by the tragic 1971 war in Bangladesh. In some army camps, Pakistani soldiers were shown pornographic movies before going into battle to incite them to rape Bengali women. In the few months duration of the war, an estimated 400,000 Bengali women were raped. Thousands of sexually assaulted Bengali women, unchaste symbols of dishonour, were banished and ostracized from their families and their communities. Through these massive rapes, Pakistani soldiers devastated the core of Bengali culture: the family and the community. When the war was over, the new government attempted to restore families and communities to pre-war stability by issuing a law proclaiming all rape victims of war to be national heroines. But because cultural and religious Page 42 beliefs run deep, this law has only been marginally successful in reintegrating these women. Countless women have suffered at the hands of warring soldiers. Rape was common during the Amer- ican Revolution, World Wars I and II, the Korean War and the war in Vietnam. The chief functions of rape during war time are not the sexual gratification of men and the suffering of women but the claiming of enemy property. Traditionally, conquering armies claimed the property of the conquered and historically, women have been regarded as the property of men. The rape of enemy women is a statement of victory; through rape, the enemy claims the most intimate property of the men they wish to conquer. Rape is also a means of terrorizing political dis- sidents. In times of political turmoil, as in South Africa, parts of Central America, Chile, etc., political prisoners are often subjected to sexual torture. Rape may also serve to revenge the honour of a fighting people. A statement of virility, masculinity, power and ownership, rape is also a statement of humiliation and powerlessness to those who can't prevent it. A gruesome fact is that rape in these circumstances is primarily a message between men. The abuse of women is secondary to the warring men's affirmation of power, victory and ownership. Rape in Prisons Rape appears to be a common feature of prison society. In a prison setting, rape involves same-sex assault. Because of the prevalent attitude that prisoners get what they deserve, few attempt to study and change this situation. There are almost a million inmates in jails and prisons throughout the United States and some esti- mate that nearly 200,000 of these people have been raped and live in some form of sexual slavery. The situation in Canadian prisons is better, according to the John Howard Association. Jails are smaller and, where "prisoners councils" exist, some of the more blatant abuses are prevented by the inmates them- selves. One common form of rape in prisons is quasi- consensual assault. This occurs when a new prisoner enters the jail. A frequent strategy for the new inmate is to seek protection from someone stronger, more influential and with better economic resources. In return for this protection, sexual favours must be given. Assault in this context underlines the power of some individuals and maintains the dependence of others. Prisoners who fear assault by other inmates can request protective custody. However, official channels for protection are often feared as much as assault itself. Since protective custody does not exist in minimum security prisons, anyone with a sentence of less than 2 years must be transferred to a medium or maximum security institution. Prisoners who wish to go this route are often required to name the person or persons they think might attack them. "Squealing" is a dangerous crime within the prison sub-culture, so many prefer to brave it out in the regular wings rather than "squeal" and risk harsher treatment from inmates. Wardens and guards working in prisons are aware of the occurrence of sexual assault among inmates. Some observers speculate that prison authorities sometimes allow rapes to occur to appease the tense and potentially explosive atmosphere that is inevitable when large numbers of people are isolated from the outside world. Although rape and assault maintain the power of some prisoners over others, anyone in prison for these crimes has very low status in the prison setting. Child molesters and rapists represent a fear of many men in prison that they are unable to protect their women and children while away from home. In the context of prison, assault in the outside world is a symbolic statement of the humiliation of one man by another through the violation of his property (wives, girlfriends and children). Often child molesters must be put in protective custody since their treatment by other prisoners could involve beatings, torture and even death. Some states in the U.S. have prisons which house mainly sex offenders. We have been told by people in the system that an offender who is not a child molester or a psychopathic rapist is rarely considered to be a "real criminal" by prison authorities. Often he will get transferred to a minimum security prison much more quickly than an inmate convicted of property crimes. Child Sexual Abuse Although sexual abuse of children has been a problem for years, serious exposure of its extent is recent. In both Canada and the United States, new research shows alarming statistics: 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 5 boys experience some form of sexual abuse by the time they reach 18 years of age. In the United States, over 500,000 cases of sexual abuse of children are reported each year; an estimated 1,500,000 more are not reported. One long term research project even concluded that sexual abuse of children is 8 times more frequent than physical abuse. It is shocking but true that 75% of the abusers are the father, foster father, stepfather or another relative or close family friend who is in a position of authority over the victim. The abuse occurs in families of all economic, social and cultural backgrounds, and is rarely a one-time event. Research shows that the average period of abuse is 6-7 years and is often not revealed until many years after it has stopped. Page 43 Confronting the sexual abuse of a child within the family is very difficult. Other members of the family may be unaware that it is happening. When it is revealed, there is usually a reluctance to take the matter to the authorities. Mothers are sometime silent accomplices to the sexual abuse of their children. Women who have been through this experience speak about feeling pulled between protecting the child and protecting the family from separation. Many avoid reporting sexual abuse because they fear their child will be further traumatized by having to testify in front of strangers. Even if the case comes before the justice or social welfare system, young sexual abuse victims are not legally recognized as witnesses. Often they are simply not believed. Sexual abuse of children by adult strangers has received more publicity lately. Sensational press coverage of missing, sexually abused and murdered children has prompted a wave of fear in many parents. TV programs and comic books about "street-proofing" children gives parents hope that they and theirchildren are taking some positive steps to prevent these situations. The difficulty with which many parents approach the topic of sexual abuse often confuses the child. While it is important to discuss how a child can say "no" to advances by strangers, statistics show that the child is more likely to be confronted with a sexual advance by a family member or friend, an adult the child trusts and depends on for protection. A child who reacts strongly against demands from these adults can provoke a threat of punishment if the abuse is revealed. It is importantfor the child to know whom to tell should this occur. Although material is available on the motives of rapists of adults, we have little information regarding sexual abusers of children. Such factors as power, dominance, aggression and hostility are certainly important, but it is not clear if there are other motives as well. There is some speculation that incest may be an expression of sexual ownership. The question of why some men express that ownership through sexual coercion of children is still being explored. Research is currently under way to shed light on why some men are primarily sexually attracted to children and not to adults. Most treatment programs have very high failure rates, and those perpetrators who have been convicted and treated have a high rate of recidivism (committing the crime again). What is clear about child sexual abuse is the impact it has on its victims. Much like the sexual assault of women, child sexual abuse underlines the feelings of powerlessness which most children experience in the adult world. For young girls, abuse is a very early lesson in female vulnerability to the sexual demands of the men in their lives. ^ Like women, children often experience feelings of guilt about their sexual abuse. Many think they are to blame and have done something to deserve it. When it occurs within the family, the child may feel that compliance is important to keep the family together. Giving children the confidence and tools to reject sexual advances by adults is the focus of a growing number of concerned groups and individuals. Encour- aging children to talk about their experience is an important step in developing self esteem and learning the difference between positive and negative relation- ships. Page 44 Sexual abuse of the mentally handicapped Public attention has only recently turned to the sexual abuse of the mentally handicapped. A major barrier to knowing the nature and extent of this problem is the difficulty of gaining the confidence of the victims themselves. For many, sexual assault is just one more area of their lives in which they are exploited, abused and ignored. Although no substantial studies show the extent of the problem, groups such as the Canadian Association for the Mentally Retarded claim that most mentally handicapped girls experience sexual exploitation at some point. Their abusers are most often males in their lives — either in the family, in the neighbourhood or in the institutions they frequent. Until recently, legislation about sexual assault made it illegal to engage in sexual intercourse with people who were "feeble minded". A mentally handicapped person was assumed to be incapable of giving or withholding consent. Since 1983 in Canada, and in some states of the U.S., this section has been deleted and cases are handled under the same law as other sexual assault cases. But new laws are only a partial solution to the problems faced in the courts by these people. The legal system often reflects public attitudes. Many people still believe that the mentally handicapped are either over-sexed, asexual or unable to express their needs. When pressing charges, the mentally handicapped sexual assault victim faces two major problems in the courtroom. The first is the question of consent. The alleged offender may claim that the woman consented to the act or even requested it. His lawyer may suggest that the parents or guardians forced her to lay charges. She is presented as someone who is caught between pleasing herself (wanting the sexual encounter) and pleasing those she depends on (pressing charges of assault). The question of consent is further complicated by the widespread belief that a mentally handicapped person is not capable of under- standing the consequences of her actions. The second problem the victim faces is the language and structure of the court process. Prosecutors rarely take time to learn how people with mental handicaps communicate their feelings and ideas. There have been rare instances where judges have allowed people close to the victim to act as interpreters during the trial. Because trials often take place many months after the actual incident, the majority of victims with mental handicaps do not remember the details of the assault and most cases are dismissed for lack of evidence. The sexual assault of mentally handicapped persons affirms their powerlessness in society. They are easy victims for aggressive bullies who act out their ag- gression without legal consequences. The difficulties which victims face in court keep them separate, different and isolated from other rape victims. Some parents, volunteers and professionals have begun training programs to diminish the isolation of the mentally handicapped and to prepare them to leave institutions and integrate into theircommunities. At the same time, there are risks involved when the mentally handicapped lead less sheltered lives. The possibility of abuse, neglect and exploitation increases. Some communities are forming groups for social/ sexual training to give people with mental handicaps the confidence to say "no" to sexual advances which could be either physically or emotionally harmful to them. These programs teach that sometimes a person must say "no" to someone in authority or to someone on whom they depend. Sexual harassment Unwanted and repeated sexual advances can take on many forms: lewd comments, touching, coercive intercourse. Although most often associated with employers and employees, sexual harassment is also experienced in other relationships. Itcanoccuramong co-workers. A group of males may taunt or harass a particular female employee. The first women to enter jobs which have been traditionally male terrain speak of sexual, and often insulting, comments from men they work with. Sexual harassment is also common in academic institutions. Some teachers use their positions of authority to coerce sexual favours from their students. The teacher's power to determine grades makes students vulnerable to such coercion. Within the health care field, sexual harassment also exists. Doctors and therapists have taken sexual advantage of their patients, often in a clinical setting, under the guise of treatment. Your doctor is supposedly someone who knows you quite intimately, is concerned about your welfare and acts in your best interests. In this context, sexual abuse is often repetitive, re- sembling incest in its dynamic. The patient/victim is often quite protective of the physician. She may eventually tell a female physician or therapist about it, but is rarely willing to denounce the perpetrator. Page 45 Complaints which do get registered are rarely regarded as founded because the medical estab- lishment is reluctant to admit that sexual harassment occurs within its profession or that a complaint is serious. In one case which did make it to court in Quebec the judge proposed that rather than going to jail, the doctor be sent to an outlying, understaffed part of the province! Women within the health pro- fession and health groups in Canada are beginning to research the extent of this problem. The most common forms of sexual harassment are the comments and taunting women receive on the street. Whistles, propositions and sexual remarks serve to remind women of their vulnerability to more extreme forms of coercion like sexual assault. Although sexual harassment has been recognized as a real problem, resisting such abuse is not without its price. The Working Woman's Institute in the U.S. estimates that as many as 25% of all women lose jobs, promotions or raises because they refuse sexual favours. Other surveys show that as many as 48% of women who leave their jobs do so because of the stress that sexual harassment causes them at work. Some progress has been made in developing "due process" to handle sexual harassment complaints. Grievance procedures have been set up by businesses, educational institutions and government offices. The Human Rights Commission in Canada acts as a preliminary forum for hearing cases which may then be forwarded to the courts. The process is often long and difficult. Proving sexual harassment is not an easy task because it usually occurs in private. Often the case is reduced to one person's word against another's. Harassers might maintain that a firing or a failure to be promoted or to pass an exam is the woman's fault. The woman must show that these problems are due to sexual harassment and not incompetence. Previous work or course evaluations and testimony from other sexual harassment victims can discredit the employer's or teacher's claims. However, most victims of sexual harassment do not lodge complaints. They may fear that friends and coworkers will think they are over-reacting. They may suspect that nothing will be accomplished by the complaint. Only when women decide to leave a job or resist such abuse does its occurrence become publicly known. Coercive sexual advances are a statement of power and control in both a psychological and economic sense. The employer who coerces an employee into sexual favours affirms his power and control over the economic livelihood of that employee. The same is true of the teacher who withholds marks until a student complies with his sexual demands. The doctor or therapist who sexually harasses a patient reinforces his power and control over her health and well-being. Sexual harassment serves as an instrument of black- mail, reminding women of their tenuous position in occupational and professional structures and of their subordinate position in society. Page 46 Summary: social functions of sexual assault Having examined the role sexual assault plays within different social settings, we see two general functions which rape serves in our society. The first has to do with its role in controlling women and in maintaining theirsubordinate position in society. The second function has to do with the role of sexual aggression in social relations among men. The control of women: A woman does not have to be a victim to be successfully controlled by the possibility of rape. Through the socialization process, women learn from an early age to control their behaviour and to be concerned about how their behaviour can be interpreted by men they encounter. In both thought and practice, our society practices "victim control". Ratherthan controlling the offenders, we take measures to repress and inhibit the free movement of women. Women who depart from traditional roles often forfeit the protection and recourse offered by the legal system. Their reports of rape will most likely be classified as "unfounded". If sexual assault occurs within the family or by someone known to the victim, it is the women's behaviour which is most often called into question. Rape in the social relations among men: The historical condition of women as the property of men is the basis for the role rape plays in men's relationships with each other. The sexual component of sexual assault is of little consequence: it is only a vehicle to express power, aggression and ownership. Even today, women are often seen as commodities which men may purchase or have for free. The element of conquest, often associated with male sexuality, is an expression of power. Although most men would not condone sexual assault, the popular concepts of "macho" and masculinity incorporate elements of sexual aggression. Sexual exploits are often part of the competitive nature of male relationships, which includes both the control of "my woman" and her protection from other men. Is rape inevitable? Many people believe that rape is an unfortunate, but inevitable feature of human society. This belief is based on certain assumptions about women, men and the relations between them. One of these assumptions is that rape occurs because of the biological differences between women and men. Biology does place physical constraints on every human being; however, the meaning of these biological differences and the way human beings behave in society is socially determined. Human nature, not fixed nor resistant to social change, is conditioned by the economic and political structures of society. Anthropologists have shown that there are societies where rape never occurs. The Arapesh of New Guinea, for example, have no concept of and no word in their language for rape. While we may not want to emulate this society in economic and political organization, the fact that rape is unheard of in this culture shows that it is not an inevitable feature of human society. Though we are historical creatures, we are not condemned to the past. We can organize for social change at both personal and social levels. At the personal level, individuals can challenge behaviours that promote male dominance and female subor- dination. At the social level, we can tackle aspects of our economic and political organization which rely on the inequality of men and women. On both levels, the Women's Movement continues to provide leadership and practical means for positive social change. Page 47 social change Changing how individuals act toward each other and changing the social conditions which maintain unequal sex roles require different kinds of actions. In relationships, we are dealing with personal issues, looking tor individual solutions to problems, and learning to respect the feelings and needs of each other. In society, we are looking at public issues, searching for solutions to social problems and trying to create an environment that fosters equality. Before taking actions, it is important to know what needs to change. Sexism — prejudice and discrimi- nation based on gender — is a major problem which contributes to sexual assault in our society. Sexual assault will not be eliminated, nor treated as a gross act of deviance, as long as males and females are socially and economically unequal. Creative solutions It is not enough to speak about what we don't want. In order to change male and female roles from sexist to equal, we should think about how we can act differently. Below are some goals we can aim for in our relationships and in society to eliminate sexism. In equal sexual relationships, both partners express their sexual desires and, in turn, respect the sexual feelings of the other. Expressing emotion and feelings is good for the psychological health of both sexes. Page 48 Making decisions as a couple or family is a cooperative effort; it is not the sole responsibility or prerogative of one person. Everyone's opinions and feelings are considered in the process. Maintaining a home (housework, finances, etc.) is the joint responsibility of all the people who live there. Parenting is a joint venture requiring the commitment of both the mother and father. Except for childbearing and breastfeeding — which occupy a relatively short period in a woman's life — other tasks can be learned and shared equally. These ideas are not easily practiced. Most of us were raised with traditional sex roles and responsi- bilities, and changing our behaviours often feels uncomfortable at first. Though men and women are not the same, true character differences only emerge when both sexes are treated equally. In a non-sexist society, all people have a right to live in conditions which promote health, security and individual growth. People have a right to walk alone at night and to go to public places alone without fear of being assaulted. All people have the opportunity to develop their physical strengths and abilities. All people have a right, even an obligation, to participate in the political decisions which affect their lives — rape laws, marriage laws, policies on job creation, taxes, price increases, etc. Payment for work reflects the time, energy and social value of the work being done. All people have a right to respectful work regardless of sex, race, religion or sexual orientation. Changing social structures and relationships re- quires both individual and collective efforts. Different people and groups choose different methods. Whatever the methods, involvement and realistic expectations are important aspects of effective social change. Involvement — Changing sexual attitudes and the conditions which promote these attitudes do not happen outside our personal lives. Social action cannot be relegated to meetings and demonstrations alone. Effective confrontation requires that these issues are addressed — within our sexual relationships, our work places, our families. Seeing the world as a changing entity means full time involvement. In this sense, no interaction between people is trivial. Realistic expectations — Short term changes must reflect long term goals. For example, struggling to place women in positions of power may result in more money in the pockets of a select few, but not for the majority who are still underpaid and overworked. Major social and personal changes take time. We must remember this when efforts seem to lead to little progress. Below are several places where conditions of society and the roles of women and men are being discussed and confronted. This list is not exhaustive, nor is it applicable to all parts of North America. But it does give an idea of what can be done by people working for social change. Sexual assault centres Sexual assault centres are also called rape crisis centres in some places. As well as assisting sexual assault survivors, many centres provide a focus for social action. Most centres have public education programs, apply political pressure to government and lobby for legal reforms. The increased number of these centres indicates that traditional institutions do not offer the support and information women require and that women are prepared to define and meet those needs. As with other non-institutionalized groups, these centres depend on the involvement and interest of the public. Most are underfunded and rely on people to donate their time and energy to keep essential services going. Even centres that have managed to squeeze money from government and charitable groups still depend largely on volunteers. Like many centres run by women, most try to structure their organizations democratically so that volunteers and workers can participate in decision making. These centres in North America vary in their membership criteria. Some centres only accept women as volunteers. Some only accept women who are feminists. Others require that all volunteers have some expertise in self-defence. Still others have men involved in their counselling and educational work. Regardless of the style, the funding or number of people participating, these centres provide a context where people can get involved. These centres should be actively supported. The pornography debate Public debate about pornography and censorship has persisted for several years. Commissions to study pornography have been appointed in both the United States and Canada. The debate is focused on three areas: the definition of pornography, the effects of pornographic materials on people and methods of controlling its production and distribution. Page 49 Definition: In any conversation on pornography, each person is likely to have her/his own definition of "hard core", "soft porn" and "erotica". Some feminist groups have defined the content of popular pornography as "hate literature". In this view, pornography degrades women and promotes the idea that women are mere sex objects to be used by men. These groups want pornography banned under laws such as those in Canada which forbid the distribution of literature promoting prejudice and discrimination against Jews, people of colour and other minority groups. Other groups distinguish between positive portrayals of sexuality and negative images — erotica and pornography. Positive images promote harmonious relations between the sexes. Gloria Steinem defines erotic material as reflecting "a mutually pleasurable sexual experience between two people who have enough power to be there by positive choice." This definition suggests that materials which show bestiality, sexual coercion as pleasurable, sex between a child and an adult and sexuality which is degrading to women, are negative and can be called pornography. U.S. obscenity laws define illegal pornography as that which appeals to prurient interests, presented in an offensive way, and/or lacking in artistic, literary or scientific value. In 1989, Congress passed Title III, a budget resolution for the National Endowment for the Arts. It defines obscenity as including "depictions of sadomasochism, homo-eroticism, the sexual exploitation of children," and sex acts lacking serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value when taken as a whole. Canadian obscenity laws refer to the "undue exploitation of sex" or sex in conjunction with crime, horror, cruelty or violence or threats of violence. In Feb. 1992, the Supreme Court of Canada further defined "undue exploitation of sex" as explicit sex with physical violence or threats of violence; explicit sex without violence but which subjects people to degrading or dehumanizing treatment, if the risk of harm is substantial; and sex that involves children. In June 1993, the Canadian government passed a "Kiddie Porn" law which prohibits possession of photos of a child's sexual organs or anal region for sexual purposes, of children involved in sexual activity, and written material counselling sexual activitiy with children. The effects of pornography: What we learn about sexual expression and relationships from pornography is not clear. Some sexual offenders admit that they read pornography in search of techniques to use on their victims. However, most porn users are not sex offenders. One study found that people repeatedly exposed to non-violent pornography develop an increased appetite for watching sexual activities involving pain. But the study does not explore if this occurs because of curiosity or if these people behave differently in their sexual relationships because of what they have seen. Another study involving male and female college students showed that those exposed to heavy amounts of pornography suggested lower sentences for convicted rapists. The group not exposed to pornography consistently suggested higher sentences. In the United States, members of the Meese Commission, which studied and made recom- mendations on the problem of pornography, are divided on the question of its effects. Their report concludes that most pornography "bears some causal relationship to the level of sexual violence, sexual coercion or unwanted sexual aggression." Two commissioners who questioned this conclusion were women. In February I992 the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that though it is impossible to establish a direct link between exposure to pornography and violent crimes, such material is nonetheless harmful to society. In their unanimous ruling, the 9 Justices also referred to "the negative impact exposure to such material has on perceptions and attitudes towards women." They conclude: "If true equality between male and female persons is to be achieved, we cannot ignore the threat to equality resulting from exposure to audiences of certain types of violent and degrading material." Though some have praised the Supreme Court of Canada decision as "world historic", the Canadian Civil Liberties Association fears that it will turn cops and customs officials into the censors of Canadian society. How the law will be applied is uncertain. What is certain, is that all people do not react in the same way to pornographic material, nor do they use these materials for the same reasons. Because of the difficulty of isolating the effects of pornography from other social and sexual experiences, most social scientists are wary of drawing definite conclusions about its effects. Methods of control: There is some consensus that public display of pornographic materials and advertising should be restricted in our society. Wrapping materials in plain covers, putting them out of the reach of children and curbing what can be shown on cinema billboards are some regulations that have gained widespread public support. Page 50 Controlling production and distribution of materials is more complicated. Many fear that banning pornography would foster the growth of an underground industry. There is also fear of censorship spreading to include art, sex education and materials that depict anything but traditional heterosexual sex. Funding agencies have already begun to censor art by refusing grants to some artists. After controversy over the works of Andres Serrano and Robert Mapplethorpe, the U.S. Congress passed Title III, which included homo-eroticism in their definition of obscenity. Since October 1989, funding from the National Endowment for the Arts or the National Endowment for the Humanities may not be granted to such work. Consistent guidelines for control are also a problem since enforcement of regulations is usually left to regional authorities. Standards, definitions and interpretations vary greatly from one area to the next. In April 1992, the Toronto police raided a gay book store and seized all copies of a lesbian erotic magazine containing depictions of sadomasochistic sex. The charges faced by the store owner and manager carry fines up to $5000 and 2 years in jail. The trial is set for autumn 1 992. Montreal police say that the Feb. I992 Supreme Court definition of obscenity has not changed their approach to pornography. They act only on complaints and do not actively pursue violations of the law. Regulating pornography requires careful consi- deration. We need to know more about why people use pornography, what purpose it serves in their lives and how it affects sexual relationships. We need more "erotic" material on the market — material that reflects the joyous pleasures of safe sex between consenting adults. We need more materials which appeal to both women and men. We need material which celebrates sexuality rather than degrading material which exploits the sexual loneliness of people. Sex education In parts of Canada and the United States, some groups are fighting against sex education in the schools. These people fear that sex education promotes sexual relations among the young and gives them the message that sex at any age is good as long as it is safe. Prohibiting classes and discussion is not the answer to these problems. Often, sex education courses are the only source of accurate information for young people. Talking about related issues like sexual assault, the effects and choices of birth control , sexually transmitted diseases, etc., is necessary if people are to make informed decisions about their social and sexual lives. Self defence Many groups across the continent are effectively confronting the sexual violence directed at women and children with special self-defence courses (see page 00). These courses — Wendo, Action, Women's Self-Defence, CAP (Child Assault Prevention) — address the specific vulnerabilities of women and children to sexual attacks and provide effective, easy- to-learn verbal and physical strategies to handle assault situations. Women's self-defence groups should be actively supported. They provide a very positive response to a widespread social problem. Take back the Night, Montreal, Quebec, 1S82. Montreal Health Press SEXUAL ASSAULT REVISION SURVEY 1 . Do you use "a book about sexual assault" Regularly? Occasionally? Rarely? 2. How do you use the book? as a ... resource in your centre? hand out to students? part of a discussion group with survivors of sexual assault? a resource for class assignments? Other: What are the book's overall strong points? What are its overall weaknesses? 5. Would you prefer the book to have less theory and more practical information or do you like the balance? 6. Are there any groups of women (such as lesbian women, native women, women with disabilities) which the book does not represent or whose particular needs are not addressed? Can you provide a resource as part of your suggestion? 7. Is the reading level appropriate? Should it go up or down or stay the same? 8. Are the illustrations helpful? Should there be others? 9. Are the photos appropriate? appealing? inclusive? Do they balance the text? 10. Are there any new books or articles you feel we should consult? (Please provide enough information so that we could find them) 11. Are there particular people or groups you feel we should consult? 12. Do you think we cover the following topics adequately? TOPIC TOO LITTLE JUST RIGHT TOO MUCH a. Preventive behaviours b. Self -defence c. The actual assault d. After the assault: emotional support, medical care, deciding to report the crime, etc e. Assault laws in Canada f. Assault laws in the U.S. g. Psychological impact about sexual assault h. Popular beliefs about assault victims i. Popular beliefs about rapists j. Patriarchal ideology k. Material conditions of women I. Socialization m Sexual socialization n. Functions of sexual assault o. Child sexual abuse p. Sexual abuse of women with disabilities q. Sexual harassment r. Partner abuse s. Date rape t. Social functions of rape u. Pornography 13. Other comments: 14. Can you estimate how many handbooks you might order in one year (see price list)? 15. Would you be interested in reading and commenting on a draft copy of future revisions? 15. The Montreal Health Press added two pages of advertizing space in recent editions of our handbooks on birth control and STDs. Ads were purchased by community groups, unions, health services and drug companies. a) How do you feel about such "advertising" in future editions of our handbooks? b) How would it influence your decision to use our books? C) Are certain advertisers more compromising than others? So that we can send you your copies of the revised handbook, please note your: Name: Organization: Address: Thank you again for you support. other materials also available in French a book about menopause STD handbook birth control handbook ' /^ JpBr^ f ' ■ ;!;:: - ffiZ**. P^lK / IW^ 1 f $ ^Isi B^ A J Montreal Health Press . "A Book about Menopause is clear concise, illustrated with informative drawings and good photographs and unwavening in its bid to in- crease the confidence of women in themselves." The Gazette - Fitness & Health Montreal, Quebec, Canada "The STD Handbook stands with- out equal in the US.... The book speaks with clarity, in an explicit language, with modern relevance to young, sexually active persons regardless of ethnicity and back- ground." Michael Ritchey, Director Cincinnati Health Department "We use this booklet often, knowing the information is reliable and com- prehensive. It is obviously put toge- ther with care." Choice Clinc, Toronto, Ontario, Canada Our publications are an important and useful resource. Bulk rates are available. Poster Kits Female and Male Anatomy Birth Control Methods Ideal visual aids on anatomy, sexuality, birth control and reproductive health. Each kit contains 5 (16" x 24") pos- ters. Printed in brown on white, they are carefully de- signed to be medically accurate, non-sexist and aesthet- ically appealing. See inside cover for ordering instructions. Reading List Stopping Rape: Successful Survival Strategies, Pauline Bart & Patricia O'Brien, Pergamon Press, Willowdale, 1985. Fight Back — A Self Defence Handbook and Freeing Our Lives — A Feminist Analysis of Rape Prevention, Intrepid, National Project to Prevent Violence against Women, Clearinghouse, PO Box 02084, Columbus, OH 43202. Against Our Will, Men, Women and Rape, Susan Brownmiller, Simon & Schuster, NY, 1975. The Secret Oppression: Sexual Harassment of Working Women, Constance Backhouse, MacMillan, Toronto, 1978. Ivory Power: Sexual Harassment on Campus, Michele Paludi, ed., SUNY Press, Albany,1990. Battered But Not Beaten: Preventing Wife Battering in Canada, Linda Macleod, Can. Advisory Council on the Status of Women, Box 1541 Station B, Ottawa Ont. K1P5R5, 1984. Dating Relationships: A Guide to Recognizing Abuse, F. Williams & H. C. Catalano, Yellow Brick House, York, 1989. Voices from the Shadow: Women with Disabilities Speak Out, Gwyneth F. Matthews, Women's Educational Press, Toronto, 1983. No Is Not Enough; Helping Teenagers Avoid Sexual Assault, C. Adams, J. Fay & J Loreen-Martin, Impact Publishers, San Luis Obispo, 1 981 . What to do if a Child Tells You of Sexual Abuse, Justice Canada, Communications & Public Affairs, Ottawa, Ontario K1 A 0N8. The Mouse, the Monster and Me — Assertiveness for Young People, Pat Palmer, Ed. D., Impact Pub., Sans Luis Obispo, CA, 1984. The Montreal Health Press We are a collective of women who produce and distribute handbooks on health and sexuality. Our approach is non-judgmental and comprehensive — empowering people to make their own informed decisions on these important issues. The Montreal Health Press made history in 1968 by publishing the first Birth Control Handbook at a time when the distribution of birth control information was still illegal in Canada. Since then we've produced handbooks on sexually transmitted diseases, sexual assault and menopause. Millions of copies in both French and English have been provided to people through clinics, community centres, women's groups and schools throughout North America. Our publications are revised regularly to include current technical developments as well as social and political changes. We are proud to celebrate 25 years of health education with this edition of Sexual Assault.